Africa’s largest telecom group MTN SA has announced a further investment of $46.4-million (R700-million) in order to modernise existing, and deploy new, network infrastructure across the KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa.

The $46.4-million investment, which is an addition to the $33.17-million (R500-million) invested in 2021, will go toward MTN’s “Modernisation of Network South Africa project” (MONZA) as well as expanded rural reach, 5G expansion and restoration of vandalised network infrastructure, the company said in a press release.

“The KZN investment forms part of plans to modernise the entire MTN network, 68% of which has already been completed nationally, with an additional 1350 sites to be finalised, and around 200 top areas covered across SA, by the end of 2022”, says Matthew Khumalo, MTN’s GM for KwaZulu-Natal Operations.

MTN infrastructure in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

The project will increase network coverage, improve throughputs, and the customer experience in the region, MTN says. This will enable the use of MTN’s broadband platform to many of the previously unconnected areas in KZN.

MTN is also planning to extend its 5G connectivity for KZN. Currently, the province has over 100 live 5G sites and more are planned for 2022.

“We currently have over 900 active 5G sites across the country. With the aim of closing the digital access gaps in South Africa, our target is to have 20% of the population covered by 2022,” continues Khumalo.

Another remote MTN tower.

MTN’s focus on KZN will also deliver against MTN’s 2022 rural rollout objectives. The rollout will bring network and connectivity services to people in the most remote rural settlements of South Africa, and MTN aims to have over 100 rural deployments nationally in highly underserved areas by the end of 2022.

“We have very big targets this year”, says Khumalo. “We are committed to working closely with all stakeholders and communities to ensure we reach our goals for 2022 and deliver a superior, reliable network experience to all South Africans. Every successful project completed is a step closer to ensuring our communities are able to access the best that modern, connected life has to offer.”

MTN Suffers Damages Due to Theft and Vandalism

A key determinant of the success of the MTN modernisation project, however, is the ongoing problem of battery theft and tower vandalism. While MTN’s heightened security and community collaboration strategy has seen a 50% year-on-year reduction in battery theft and further anticipated $23.23 million (R350 million) is to be spent on the replacement of stolen batteries, infrastructure restoration and security measures in 2022. This is over and above the $43.16 million (R650 million) invested in 2021, with 2600 base station batteries replaced nationally.

“Our network towers are how we keep our customers connected. If they don’t work, our network doesn’t work. This can have very serious consequences on business operations and in cases of emergencies. MTN urges community members across the country to continue being vigilant and report any incident of vandalism and theft at network towers”, concludes Khumalo.


Edited by Luis Monzon
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