Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy has initiated the process for the start of the auction of the 3.5 gigahertz (GHz) spectrum for the deployment of 5G in the country.
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is holding an auction at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja, with MTN Nigeria, Airtel Nigeria, and Mafab Communications Ltd as the three successful bidders.
In his welcome address, the minister, who is also the chief host, stated that the deployment of a Fifth Generation (5G) network on the 3.5 GHz spectrum will assist security agencies in overcoming security challenges in the country.
According to him, with President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval of the 5G policy for Nigeria on September 8th, 2021, “we feel that if 5G is used effectively by our securities agencies, it will go a long way in curbing insecurity”. 5G will provide a channel for security agencies to use to overcome security challenges.
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 beyond that that it will help our security, help our digital economy march, 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 Buhari for supporting and approving the 5G development policy in Nigeria.
“Today’s auction is momentous in that it will usher Nigeria into the 5G realm,” said Prof Umar Danbatta, executive vice-chairman of the Nigeria Communications Commission and the auction overseer, in his welcome address.
In his remarks, Prof Akande, chairman of the NCC’s board of commissioners, thanked the bidders for investing millions of dollars in Nigeria’s telecommunications sector and wished them a successful auction.
MTN executives, led by CEO Karl Toriola, chose bidder room two and monitoring room three. Mafab officials, led by its chairman, Alhaji Musibau Bashiru, chose bidder room one and monitoring room two, while Airtel officials, led by Mr Sreedhar Krishna, chose bidder room three and monitoring room one.
The auction bidding process is being monitored by officials from the Department of State Security (DSS), the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), and officials from the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), the Association of Licenced Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ALTON), the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), and other telecom stakeholders.
Each of the two lots up for auction has a reserve price of $197.4 million.