Technology Times has learnt that Mafab Communications Limited, winner of one of the two 5G licences sold Monday, plans to launch a mobile network operator (MNO) in Nigeria by 2022.
Mafab Communications Limited consortium led by Nigerian tycoon, Dr. Musbahu Mohammad Bashir, Chairman of Althani Group counts high-net worth Nigerian investors including Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, ex Lagos State Governor and current National Leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC); Colonel Sanni Bello, former military Governor of Kano State among other investors, Technology Times can confirm authoritatively.
Barring any last-minute change, Mafab plans to launch a greenfield MNO to roll out 5G service that will make the 5G auction winner Nigeria’s next MNO to compete with existing operators like MTN, Airtel, Glo, 9mobile, and nTel.
Mafab’s MNO plan comes just as the consortium and MTN Nigeria, the largest MNO in Nigeria, won the two licences in 2.3GHz spectrum bands put up for sale by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for the deployment of 5G service, with each winner to pay $273,600,000 per licence.
Yesterday’s 5G auction that raked in $547,200,000 for the Nigerian Government will also see MTN Nigeria shelling out an additional $15,900,000.00 after the MNO’s offer ranked higher than Mafab’s $11,120,000 to win the right to be assigned its spectrum lot out of the two licences at the assignment stage of the bids.
Source: ‘No Plan To Sell Mafab’s 5G Spectrum’
Meanwhile, Technology Times has learnt that following the success of the Mafab consortium in the 5G auction, Bashir, the lead promoter of the consortium, who has always believed that there is to need to deepen local content and increase the participation of Nigerians in the telecoms industry has opened talks with U.S. and Chinese equipment suppliers to decide on the choice of equipment supplier for the planned MNO in Nigeria.
“There is no plan to sell the Mafab 5G spectrum”, a source in the know of the group’s plan says on condition of anonymity citing that the investors are convinced that an indigenous company can still thrive in the Nigerian telecoms industry.
Meanwhile, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, NCC Executive Vice Chairman of NCC who doubled as Auction Overseer following the outcome of the 5G auction, says the provisional winners, Mafab and MTN, “are expected to pay the Winning Bid price, less the Intention-to-Bid Deposit, by February 24, 2022.”
Danbatta says that the auction process was efficient, fair, credible, well-organised, and transparent and was designed to deliver the ideal outcome.
The two winners emerged in a keenly contested that witnessed 11 rounds of bidding that lasted eight hours at the keenly-contested 3.5GHz Spectrum auction conducted by NCC in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja.
In the first Round of the auction, the bid price was fixed at $199,374,000.00; $201,367,740.00 at second Round; $204,388,356.10 at third Round; $209,407,962.50 at fourth Round and $215,782,901.30 at the fifth Round.
The auction prices increased progressively to $224,414,217.43 at the Sixth Round; $231,146,643.96 at the seventh Round; $240, 392,509.71 at the eighth Round; $251, 210,172.65 at the ninth Round; and $263,700,050.00 at the Round 10 of the auction exercise.
The auction process reached its peak at Round 11 when the bid price graduated to $275,904,886.25 with all three bidders still actively participating. The Main Stage of the Auction, however, ended at the conclusion of the 11th Round, with Airtel listing an exit bid of $270,000,000, while MTN posted an exit bid of $273,000,000, giving way to the Assignment Stage.
At this point, Airtel had dropped off from the race having posted a lower exit bid, thus leaving Mafab and MTN as winners of the two available lots.
At the end of the auction, Danbatta says the strongest bidders have emerged provisional winners, raising a substantial amount for the Federal Government.
He congratulated the winners and thanked the Federal Government for its support and commitment to the deployment of 5G technology in Nigeria, which, he said, will bring substantial network improvements, including higher connection speed, mobility, and capacity as well as low-latency capabilities to communications services in Nigeria.
Sequel to the successful auction by the two winners, Danbatta said in line with the processes outlined in the IM, the provisional winners have proceeded to the Assignment Stage.
According to Danbatta, “MTN Communications Nigeria Plc made an offer of $15,900,000 for the assignment of a preferred Lot, while Mafab Communications Limited made an offer of $11,120,000 for a preferred Lot. Thence, MTN Communications Nigeria Plc, having made the highest offer was given the right to select its most preferred Lot and it selected Lot 1 (3500-3600 MHz), while Lot 2 (3700-3800 MHz) is consequentially assigned to Mafab Communications Limited at no extra cost.”
He thanks stakeholders, who have contributed to the success of the auction process saying that the huge investment that will accrue from the sales of the spectrum band auctioned will result in increased transformation in life and businesses.