MainOne, West Africa’s internet backbone, celebrates 10-year milestone

MainOne is 10 years old. In the last decade, it has invested over $400 million in broadband infrastructure across West Africa.

MainOne, West Africa’s internet backbone, celebrates 10-year milestone
Funke Opeke

MainOne, the leading provider of datacenter and broadband connectivity service in West Africa, has turned 10 years old.

The telecommunications service provider was launched in Nigeria in 2010. And it has since expanded to 10 West African countries, including Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.

MainOne, in its anniversary letter, said it has invested over $400 million in broadband infrastructure across West Africa. This is part of efforts to bridge the digital divide and enable the digital economy on the continent. Ten years ago, internet penetration across West Africa was less than 10%. Today, internet penetration rate inches up to 40%.

The Internet Society noted in its latest report that MainOne has been critical to the success of local internet exchange points in Nigeria and Kenya. In 2018, MainOne launched the West African Exchange (WAF-IX). The exchange aims to help content providers like Netflix transmit content from their Point of Presence (PoP) in Nigeria to other West African countries.

MainOne is particularly instrumental to Nigeria’s technology boom. It provided the broadband internet that powered the growth of startups in Nigeria’s first tech hub, Yaba. In 2011, MainOne collaborated with the Lagos State government to install a fibre-optic-powered information superhighway in Yabacon Valley.

Last year, MainOne also announced a partnership with Facebook that would see it provide broadband internet in Edo and Ogun State. The company is also running a campaign tagged, Digital Lagos: Broadband for All. The aim of the campaign is to enable the digital transformation of Lagos. To achieve this lofty ambition, MainOne would deploy broadband infrastructure across the state.

According to DataReportal, there were 85.4 million internet users in Nigeria as of January 2020. And internet penetration stood at 42%. This represents a 2.6% increase or 2.2 million internet users between 2019 and 2020.

"We started on this journey to deploy critical infrastructure to bridge the digital divide in West Africa 10 years ago. While we are pleased that we have made an impact, there is so much more work to be done", Funke Opeke, CEO of MainOne said.

"The recent challenges we have faced with COVID-19 pandemic highlight the need for additional investment and smarter policies to deploy shared infrastructure required to make access to broadband a reality for more Africans at a price they can afford".

Across Africa, the average cost of 1GB data is 7.12% of the average month salary. The Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) said in its latest report that affordability is the greatest barrier to a connected world. It noted that if average Americans pay 7.12% of their income for 1GB data, they would be paying $373 (N145,500) per month.

Opeke reiterated the commitment of MainOne to enable the digital economy across West Africa. She said, "MainOne has been leading that charge across West Africa for ten years. We are more committed to realizing our vision today than we were 10 years ago".

MainOne’s achievements over the last decade

According to MainOne, the $400 million investment covered submarine cables, terrestrial fibre networks, and PoPs across West Africa.

Over the last decade, MainOne has built Tier III data centres in Nigeria, Ghana, and Côte d’Ivoire. These data centres host the largest institutions and global content in the West African region.

The data centre and broadband connectivity provider said it has an ongoing expansion plan. MainOne is expanding its data centre footprint in Nigeria and Ghana.

In the last decade, MainOne has also received numerous awards. They include:

  • Datacloud Africa Award for Excellence in Data Center (Africa)
  • Africa Cloud Service Provider of the Year
  • Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) Impact Award
  • Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry Award for Excellence in Broadband Infrastructure
  • NTITA Telecoms Wholesale Provider of the Year
  • Frost & Sullivan Best Practices winner for the Nigerian Data Center Customer Value Leadership Award
  • Ghana Telecoms Awards: Telecom Wholesale Carrier of the Year
  • Nigerian Telecoms Awards: Broadband Company of the Year

CEO Opeke concluded the letter with gratitude to MainOne’s shareholders and employees. "It is an accomplishment for any company to reach the 10-year milestone, but it is particularly significant for us as we hold on to our vision which is to be West Africa’s communication solutions provider of choice", she said.

"Through the commitment of our shareholders, hard work and dedication of our employees, and collaboration with partners, we have been able to deliver services that balance innovative solutions with excellent service delivery".

Opeke continued: "I thank our valued customers for the opportunity to be of service and remain grateful to our board members and shareholders for their faith in us. Many thanks also to our devoted employees and partners who have enabled us to grow and thrive. We are confident that we will witness continued growth over the next ten years as we continue to provide excellent services to our clients and enable businesses and the digital economy across the region".

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