9mobile: NCC insists on technical competence of buyers

By Kokumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria

The Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) has insisted that it will not approve the sale of 9mobile to any bidder without technical competence.

The Executive Vice-Chairman/CEO of NCC, Prof Umar Garba Danbatta, said though a preferred bidder for 9mobile had emerged with the full participation of NCC, technical competence is vital. He added  that the bidder was already undergoing financial evaluation.

“Once the Central Bank of Nigeria has done the financial evaluation of the bidder, NCC will also examine the technical capacity of the preferred bidder. If the financial evaluation process was not done properly, the CBN would address questions on that; the examination process is meant to be open and transparent. The board of 9mobile was given the mandate with these requirements in mind,” he told reporters during an interactive session.

On the four newly licensed infracos, Prof Dambatta said: “Recently, Zinox Technology Ltd. was licensed for broadband infrastructure provisioning for the South-East Zone while Brinks Integrated Solutions Ltd. was issued licence for the north-east zone.

“A subsidiary of MainOne Cable Company Ltd. had earlier been licensed to provide services in Lagos. IHS was also issued a licence to cover the North-Central Zone including Abuja.”

The EVC said much work would still need to be done in the deployment of 4G LTE infrastructure needed to support data services. “For now, the directive is that 3G should be made 4G LTE infrastructure compatible,” he said.

Danbatta said the telecoms industry contributed N1.45 trillion to Nigeria’s gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter of last year, adding that the figure rose to N1.5 trillion in the second quarter of last year in spite of the economic recession that ravaged the country, the first in over two decades.

According to Prof Danbatta, at September 2017, the telecoms industry had attracted a whopping $70 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) although the sector could not boast of $50 million worth of investments as at 2001 before its liberalisation.

Teleology Holdings Ltd, the preferred bidder, has paid $50 million bid price for the acquisition of Nigeria’s fourth largest mobile operator. The firm, being promoted by Adrian Wood, pioneer chief executive officer of MTN Nigeria, has less than three months to pay the balance of $450 million bid price.

Another telco, Smile Communications is the reserved bidder in the transaction.

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