The federal government has raked in a whopping $547.2m (N225 billion) from the auction of the 3.5GHz spectrum for the 5G network conducted on Monday in Abuja, which was won by leading telecommunications giant, MTN and Mafab Communications Limited. MTN and Mafab which had the preferred bids are expected to pay $273.6m (it’s equivalent in naira) each into the purse of the federal government between now and February 2022. After 11 rounds of what turned out to be a bidding war, MTN and Mafab emerged successful at the end of the round, while Airtel withdrew from the bidding race. Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, who oversaw the auction, while announcing that MTN and Mafab Communications Limited had emerged winners of the bidding, said they were the winners of the 100MHz lots for the 5G network.
According to him, the two successful bidders are to pay $293.6m each to the federal government between now and February next year. Before the bidding began, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami has said that Nigeria will have the largest 5G coverage in Africa by 2022. He said this when he flagged off the much anticipated 3.5 GHz spectrum auction held at the prestigious Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja. The auction, organised by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) had three companies, MTN Nigeria, Airtel Nigeria and Mafab Communications Limited as participants. In his address, Pantami mentioned that with the deployment of the 5G technology and services in Nigeria, the issue of insecurity could be curbed as it would provide real-time services and platforms. “Things of Big Data, IOT, will be used to figure out security issues.
The general benefits of 5G deployment include low latency and high bandwidth. At the top of our 5G policy, the security agencies can leapfrog to solve security issues. “We are convinced that it will help our security, help our digital economy march, and strengthen our financial sector, etc. We feel that if 5G is deployed in Nigeria, it will support all sectors of our economy. “Nigeria has the largest digital economy in Africa, largest telecom market, broadband subscribers, telephone subscribers and we hope by 2025 we will have the largest 5G subscribers. “Finally, I want to commend the Federal Executive Council led by President Muhammadu Buhari for supporting and approving the 5G development policy in Nigeria,” Pantami said. Also speaking, the Chairman of the NCC Board Of Directors, Prof. Adeolu Akande, said the purpose of the 3.5 GHz spectrum auction was to support the deployment of 5G technology in Nigeria for the benefit of Nigerians. While the MTN team was led by its Chief Executive Officer, Karl Toriola, Mafab Communications was led by its Chairman, Alhaji Musibau Bashir, and Airtel was led by its Chief Financial Officer, Mr. S. Krishna Menon. The bid price per lot of the 3.5GHz spectrum auction hit $215,782,901.38 in the fifth round. In the first round of bidding, the three bidders priced the two lots on offer at $199,374,000.00. In the second round of bidding, the auction manager raised the offer to $201, 367,740.00.
The price per lot of 100MHz band of the spectrum on offer rose to $204, 388,256.10 at the third round of bidding. However, at the eighth and ninth rounds of bidding, all three competitors were still in the race with the bid price standing at $240, 392, 509.71 and $251, 210, 172.65, respectively, before the eventual withdrawal of Airtel from the race