MainOne, a leading telecommunications company created by a Nigerian woman, is sold for $320 million

MainOne, a West African data center and connectivity solutions provider with operations in Nigeria, Ghana and Ivory Coast, is being acquired for $320 million by Redwood City-based internet company Equinix, in California, which provides data center services to businesses, businesses, and organizations.

Techcrunch reports that the deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2022 subject to “the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including required regulatory approvals.”

A statement from Equinix explains that the acquisition of MainOne is the first step in its long-term strategy to become a carrier-neutral African digital infrastructure company.

“With over 200 million people, Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy and, along with Ghana, has become an established data hub. This makes the acquisition a crucial entry point for Equinix on the continent,” the company said in the statement.

MainOne has a 7,000 kilometer cable linking Portugal to West Africa with landing in Accra, Ghana; Dakar, Senegal; Abidjan, Ivory Coast and Lagos, Nigeria, according to Techcrunch.

Techcrunch further reports that MainOne has 1,200 kilometers of terrestrial fiber network in Southern Nigeria in Lagos, Edo and Ogun states. Connectivity to terrestrial sites spans 65 PoPs (points of presence) in cities in Portugal, Nigeria, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.

In addition, it is used by 800 business-to-business customers. These include large international technology companies, social media companies, global telecommunications operators, financial services companies and cloud service providers.

MainOne was founded by Nigerian entrepreneur Funke Opeke after a successful telecommunications career in the United States. Upon her return to Nigeria, she was shocked to see the low level of internet connectivity in the West African country.

The average youngster didn’t know what the internet was, after all most online communication in the country at the time was through satellite networks.

What was missing was a stable physical connection to the internet, and to help find a solution, the trained electrical engineer joined the Nigerian public telecommunications company, NITEL. She was at MTN Nigeria as a Technical Director when she decided to move to NITEL, believing she could help bring change to a near-broken government institution to improve the lives of all while providing adequate access to Internet.

But unable to fit in due to some reported corrupt practices that derailed her dreams, she left to start Main One Cable Company in 2008. The company went on to lay a 7,000 km fiber optic cable underground of the ocean, from Portugal to Nigeria. . Together with entrepreneur and philanthropist Fola Adeola, who is now the company’s chairman, Opeke raised $240 million to start the project.

And even if it was not easy to raise such a sum, the project paid off. Essentially, Main One provided the broadband connection that providers couldn’t live without. Soon, the Nigerian city, Lagos, saw an increase in internet speed, and with that came the rise of startups as well as mail-order companies like Jumia and Konga and then Uber, according to a report by Aljazeera. .

Soon, Google began to contact Opeke. His company also started discussions with Nigerian campuses that needed a broadband network. In 2012, Opeke received the CNBC All Africa Businesswoman of the Year award. Recently invited to chair the Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2020-2025, the electrical engineer also visited the White House to hold discussions on internet connectivity for all, including unserved populations in Africa.

Indeed, MainOne over the years has helped boost the internet capability of various businesses, but not all has been smooth sailing. One of the biggest challenges for Opeke has been raising capital and the fact that the company’s distributed operations are still facing power issues.

“We are undoubtedly critical to West Africa’s digital infrastructure, and we expect that we will continue to develop it as part of the global platform that Equinix brings,” said Opeke at Techcrunch last December about the Equinix deal.

“It’s a fantastic story that we can grow under this global platform and have access to the additional investment capacity, technology and solutions they have to offer global customers who want to more and more doing business in our region.”

Sean B. Jackson