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5G: Mafab, MTN Emerge Winners in Nigeria’s 3.5GHz Spectrum Auction

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After 11 rounds of bidding that lasted eight hours, Mafab Communications Ltd and MTN Nigeria Plc, have emerged the two successful winners of the 3.5 gigahertz (GHz) spectrum auction for the deployment of Fifth Generation (5G) technology to support the delivery of ubiquitous broadband services in Nigeria.

L-R: Dr. Abimbola Alale, Managing Director, Nigerian Communications Satellite; Adeleke Adewolu, Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management, NCC; Ubale Maska, Executive Commissioner, Technical Services, NCC; Prof. Adeolu Akande, Chairman, Board of Commissioners, NCC; Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy; Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman, NCC; Prof. Millionaire Abowei, Commissioner, NCC; Clement Baiye, Commissioner, NCC; Prof. Mohammed Ajiya, President, Digital Bridge Institute

The two winners emerged in a keenly contested 3.5GHz Spectrum auction conducted by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.

The event took place at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja on Monday, December 13, 2021.

The commission in a statement signed by Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, Director, Public Affairs, noted that three companies, namely MTN, Airtel and Mafab Communications Limited, had qualified for the auction, having met the requirements stipulated in the Information Memorandum (IM) for the spectrum auction.

“The three companies had also participated in a mock auction held on Friday, December 10, 2021, which served as a precursor to the Main Auction conducted on today (Monday, December 13, 2021).

“In an exercise that clearly demonstrated demand outstripping supply, with Ascending Clock Auction System adopted by the Commission, the three bidders participated in the intensely competitive auction bid.

“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 the 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”.

Announcing the results of the Auction exercise, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman of NCC and Auction Overseer, who recalled the processes and activities leading to the successful conduct of the auction, said the NCC published a public notice on its decision to award two lots of 100 megahertz (MHz) Time Division Duplex (TDD) available in the 3.5 GHz band through an auction process to support the delivery of ubiquitous broadband services for the deployment of 5G network in Nigeria.

“Subsequently, an Information Memorandum was issued on November 10, 2021, in which Bid applications for the available spectrum lots were invited.

“By the deadline for receipt of applications on November 29, 2021, the Commission received applications from three licensed telecoms companies, viz: Airtel Networks Limited, Mafab Communications Limited and MTN Communications Nigeria Limited,” he said.

“The auction held successfully today, Monday December 13, 2021 at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja with the three bidders competing for the available two slots.

“The Commission adopted the Ascending Clock Auction format which ended after Round 11 and proceeded to the Assignment Stage. It is my pleasure to announce that at the end of the auction, Mafab Communications Limited and MTN Communications Nigeria Limited emerged as provisional licence winners,” he said.

Arising from the above, Danbatta said that the winning bid price for the auction is $273,600,000 for each lot of 100 MHz TDD and the provisional winners are expected to pay the Winning Bid price, less the Intention-to-Bid Deposit, by February 24, 2022.

He expressed satisfaction that the auction process was efficient, fair, credible, well-organised and transparent and was designed to deliver the ideal outcome.

Accordingly, Danbatta said the strongest bidders have emerged provisional winners, raising a substantial amount for the Federal Government.

The EVC 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.

“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,” the EVC said.

The EVC thanked all stakeholders, who have contributed to the success of the auction process. He said the huge investment that will accrue from the sales of the spectrum band auctioned will result in increased transformation in life and businesses.

Earlier, at the opening ceremony, the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, who doubles as the Chief Host, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), who emphasized Federal Government’s commitment to driving digital economy, commended the Commission for its efforts towards implementing the 5G Deployment Plan for the country.

He expressed optimism that the dawn of 5G network in Nigeria will offer significant advantages over current technologies, some of which include much lower latency, higher bandwidth, greater device density, longer battery life for nodes, and greater network flexibility.

Also in his remarks, the Chairman, Board of Commissioners, NCC, Prof. Adeolu Akande, said that spectrum plays a strategic role in meeting the insatiable demand for advanced mobile data services as well as a new wave of wireless broadband such as remote object manipulation, industrial automation, virtual and augmented reality, and next-generation connectivity for vehicles. He said the use cases will continue to increase the impact that mobile services have on societies and economies.

He commended the Minister for his unflinching support, the Board of Commissioners, Management and staff of the NCC for the role they played in making the auction to be successful.

He also thanked the bidders for believing in the Nigerian communications sector by their willingness to invest millions of dollars in the sector for the provision of 5G services.

He said that the Commission is committed to transparency and openness, which the auction represents.

Prof. Akande’s voice was amplified by Engr. Ubale Maska, Executive Commissioner Technical Services at NCC, who served as the auction adviser. While delivering the Vote of Thanks, Maska conveyed the gratitude of the Commission to all stakeholders, giving special mention of the Auction Planning Committee, the media and staff of the Commission.

 

L-R: Dr. Abimbola Alale, Managing Director, Nigerian Communications Satellite; Adeleke Adewolu, Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management, NCC; Ubale Maska, Executive Commissioner, Technical Services, NCC; Prof. Adeolu Akande, Chairman, Board of Commissioners, NCC; Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy; Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman, NCC; Prof. Millionaire Abowei, Commissioner, NCC; Clement Baiye, Commissioner, NCC; Prof. Mohammed Ajiya, President, Digital Bridge Institute


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AfDB Appoints Dr Babatunde Samson Omotosho as Director of Statistics Department

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African Development Bank has appointed Dr Babatunde Samson Omotosho, an economist and statistician, as Director of the Statistics Department, effective June 16, 2024.

Dr Babatunde Samson Omotosho

Dr Omotosho, a Nigerian national, has more than 21 years experience in developing data strategies to align with the strategic objectives of organisations. He also brings expertise in data compilation, data analytics, macroeconomic research, and policy analysis.

Omotosho previously served as Director of Research and Statistics at the West African Monetary Agency (WAMA) in Sierra Leone, where he was seconded from the Central Bank of Nigeria. At WAMA, he provided advice on monetary and economic integration within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Prior to that he held various positions within the Statistics and Research Departments of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

As an Assistant Director in the Statistics Department, he led the data analytics team and managed the Central Bank’s strategic initiatives on big data and data analytics. He oversaw projects aimed at enhancing data analytics capabilities for policymaking, automating surveys and statistical systems, improving data sharing infrastructure and developing social media listening tools. His leadership fostered a culture of data analytics within the Central Bank, driving innovation and efficiency in operational and policy processes.

Dr Omotosho holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Glasgow, United Kingdom (2021); a master’s degree in Applied Statistics and Datamining from the University of St Andrews, United Kingdom (2011); a master’s degree in Economics from the University of Benin, Nigeria (2008); and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Ilorin, Nigeria (2000).

He has contributed extensively to academic literature, with publications in reputable journals, including the Journal of Economic Dynamics & Control, Journal of International Money & Finance, Macroeconomic & Finance in Emerging Market Economies, and the Central Bank of Nigeria Journal of Applied Statistics. His research covers big data, econometrics, monetary and fiscal policy interactions, business cycle drivers, and the macroeconomic implications of resource shocks for small open, emerging economies.

Omotosho is a member of the Nigerian Statistical Association, the International Association for Official Statistics, and the Royal Statistical Society.

Commenting on his appointment, he said, “I am grateful to President Adesina for this appointment, and I am excited about the opportunity to contribute to the continued success and growth of the African Development Bank Group, an institution that plays such a pivotal role in the economic and social development of our beloved continent, Africa. I am fully committed to fulfilling the responsibilities of the position while collaborating effectively with the Bank’s senior leadership team, colleagues, and other strategic partners.”

Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group, commented: “I am pleased to appoint Dr Babatunde Samson Omotosho, a respected statistician, as Director of the Statistics Department. Dr Omotosho brings to this role an impressive track record in statistics, economics, and data analytics. He will support the Bank in building a robust data ecosystem to achieve our strategic objectives and sustain our long-term development goals.”


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ATII Awards Scholarship to Students

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A knowledge transfer and technology innovation hub, African Technology and Innovation Institutes (ATII) has awarded scholarships to ten pupils from Bridge International Academy, Lagos.

Through its Junior Scholars Program in partnership with Lumina Educational and Empowerment Foundation (Lumina), the scholarship will meet the educational needs of the benefitting pupils through their primary education, which is extendable to their university education.

The Junior Scholars Program is an offshoot of  ATII’s  Innovation, Leaders, Fellowship and Scholars Program that aims to empower and cater to the welfare of students aged 3-12 years from underprivileged and low-income communities by partnering with other organisations to provide scholarships for these rough diamonds.

In addition to the scholarship, ATII also provides STEM-based back-to-school kits and other Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) materials to spark their desire for education and to contribute to their communities in STEM-related fields.

In her congratulatory message, the Founder of ATII,  Prof. Rose-Margaret Ekeng-Itua represented by Mr Sunday Awolowo, ATII’s Programs Manager, praised the students for their “outstanding academic excellence” and their “resolve to continue to improve in their academic pursuits, especially in the STEM fields.”

“We hope that the scholarships will continue to encourage you to do great work to pursue STEM. We hope one day in the future you all will be inspired to be an Engineer, a technologist, a mathematician or scientist,” Prof. Ekeng-Itua said.

The ATII Junior Scholars Program is designed to encourage and support students who are interested in pursuing careers in these fields.

Mrs Ezinne Tochie-Asogwa, Manager of Academics at Bridge International Academy, expressed her appreciation to ATII for the generous gesture.

“On behalf of the management and staff of Bridge International Academy, we appreciate the kind gesture of ATII.

ATII is passionate about the next generation of leaders and individuals who will change the world, pursuing its mission to promote African and Indigenous Technologies, while supporting human capital development in alignment with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The ATII scholarships will provide financial assistance to the students as they continue their education in STEM fields. The program will also provide mentorship and support from ATII professionals.

 


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CBN, FintechNGR Chart the Way Forward to Enhance Nigeria’s Fintech Ecosystem

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In light of recent developments aimed at strengthening Nigeria’s fintech sector, Ade Bajomo, President of FintechNGR, led a team from the Association’s Governing Council in an engagement with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to chart the way forward.

Receiving the team at the CBN headquarters in Abuja, Philip Ikeazor, Deputy Governor, Financial System Stability, commended FintechNGR’s active advocacy efforts that have significantly improved the fintech ecosystem.

The Central Bank emphasized the need for the Association to work closely with stakeholders to operate within regulatory provisions, facilitate compliance, and establish robust risk management frameworks and governance structures.

Mr. Ikeazor stated, “The Central Bank understands the critical roles of fintechs in driving financial inclusion to the last mile. Our efforts are geared towards helping fintechs become more attractive to investors and achieve greater success.”

During the meeting, Ade Bajomo noted that while stakeholders strive to comply with regulatory requirements, they sometimes face challenges beyond their control.

“The common understanding within our ecosystem is that compliance makes the environment safer for all to innovate, scale, and collaborate. FintechNGR will ensure the co-creation of a support structure with the CBN to enhance compliance.”

Some of the initiatives the regulators plan to pursue with the ecosystem include making the 2024 Nigeria Fintech Week more impactful, enriching the activities of the Regulators Forum, organizing fintech learning series for various stakeholders, and exploring self-regulation status for FintechNGR to foster closer relationships with regulators.

FintechNGR remains committed to working with all regulators to better position the ecosystem to be more inclusive and impactful.

 


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