By Mike Uzor
The preferred bidder for 9 Mobile must scale through a technical capacity assessment before Nigerian Communications Commission [NCC] will effect transfer of the operational licence. Prof. Umar Danbatta, Vice Chairman of NCC, disclosed this in Lagos on Monday at an interactive session with the media.
If the preferred bidder meets financial capacity requirements, it will still be subjected to a technical capacity test by the commission to ensure it has full capacity to run the network, Danbatta added.
The preferred bidder for the network, Teleology Holdings Limited, is presently undergoing financial capacity evaluation by the Central Bank of Nigeria [CBN]. NCC is currently waiting to commence the technical capacity test if the CBN is satisfied in terms of the financial capacity of the preferred bidder.
“NCC insists on assessing the technical capacity of the preferred bidder before transfer of licences”, Danbatta said.
The commission’s ideal bidder must have the financial and technical capacity to improve on the operations of the company that was rescued through regulatory intervention and add value in delivery of qualitative telecoms services in the country.
According to Danbatta, NCC is making steady progress in its mandate to connect every part of the nation. He said that about 200 service gaps still exist across the nation, denying about 14 million Nigerians access to telecomm services.
In line with the concept of inclusiveness – under which every Nigerian should have access to telecomm services, the commission has adopted new technological solutions to bridge the gaps at the shortest possible time, the NCC’s chief executive officer assured.
Danbatta said facilitation of broadband penetration in the country is the main driver of NCC’s 8-point agenda to deliver its mandate to the Nigerian public. “Our commitment to achieve the three ‘A’s of availability, accessibility and affordability is hinged on broadband deployments across the country”, he said.
He explained that the potentials in broadband penetration are enormous, which is why the global community is investing heavily to exploit the infrastructure that is expected to guide global economic index of development in the future.
He said NCC has joined the global push for deployment of broadband as a means of fast-tracking economic growth.
This is in line with a World Bank’s finding that a 10 percentage point increase in fixed broadband penetration will raise GDP growth by 1.21% in developed countries and 1.38% in developing countries.
NCC’s boss expressed satisfaction at the level of progress in broadband penetration the commission has made within the third year of the five-year-8-point agenda. International Telecommunications Union’s report indicates a 22% broadband penetration for Nigeria in 2017.
Speaking further, Danbatta said the recent licensing of four infrastructure service providers is a major milestone attained in the national broadband plan.
The infrastructure providers include Zinox Technology Ltd for south east, Brinks Integrated Solutions Ltd for north east, Infrastructure Company Ltd for Lagos and IHS for north central and Abuja. Licences are presently being processes for south-south, south west and north west zones, Danbatta hinted.
The national broadband plan envisages a broadband penetration target of 30% in 2018.
Danbatta said the commission was working relentlessly to meet the target and possibly surpass it.
He was confident that a combination of licences for infrastructure provision, spectrum auctions and re-farming of some of the existing spectrum to increase efficiency would be adequate to realise the expectations.
On the quality of telecomm services, Danbatta said that NCC had asked service providers to improve their service quality or face sanctions.
He said that NCC has acquired tools for measurement of service performance as well as consumer experience at state by state levels. He added that the commission is also taking steps to create mass awareness of solutions it has provided in order to improve the quality consumer experience.