Two leading mobile telecommunications networks in Nigeria, MTN and Airtel have barred about 9.7 million phone numbers from making calls due to issues related to National Identification Numbers. Earnings reports filed to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) show.
Investors King gathered that in April 2022, more than 72 million phone numbers were barred from making calls. The directive to barn phone numbers that were not linked to their National Identification Number came from the Federal Government through the Nigeria Commission Commission (NCC).
A joint statement released by the spokespersons of NCC, Ikechukwu Adinde, and National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Kayode Adegoke partly read:
“Outgoing calls will subsequently be barred for telephone lines that have not complied with the NIN-SIM linkage Policy from the 4th of April, 2022. Subscribers of such lines are hereby advised to link their SIMs to their NINs before the Telcos can lift the restriction on their lines,”.
The statement added that the president has approved the implementation of the policy after the deadline has been extended on several occasions.
The federal government had earlier stated that the policy will help the government to fight insecurity, particularly bandits and terrorists.
Meanwhile, both MTN and Airtel have revealed that the policy has eaten deep into their profit as almost 10 million phone subscribers could not make outgoing calls.
A look at the two telecoms eating reports shows that while 16. 2 million subscribers who had their lines barred have submitted their NINs for verification only 6.5 million had been verified as of September 30, 2022
Leaving about 9.7 million phone subscribers in the cold despite submitting their NIN for linkage. A responsibility that is expected of the National Identity Management Commission.
Revenue growth for the first half of the year was impacted by the effect of barring outgoing voice calls in Nigeria for those customers who had not submitted their NINs, Airtel noted in its report.
NCC Announces Airtel as the Sole Bidder for the Second 5G Spectrum Auction
The Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) has announced Airtel Network Limited as the sole bidder for the 5G spectrum scheduled for auction on December 19, 2022.
Airtel has since deposited $27.36 million ahead of the auction.
According to the NCC, only two telecom companies, Airtel Africa and Standard Network & Connections Limited expressed interest in the auction as of the stipulated deadline which was Monday, December 5, 2022.
Therefore, the NCC noted that there would be no auction as Airtel would be assigned one of the available lots of 100 MHz TDD Spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band.
Investors King understands that the $27.36 million deposit is 10 percent of the reserve price for the spectrum fixed at $273.6 million. The same price was paid by MTN and Mafab Communications before the 5G spectrum was allocated to them individually.
MTN on its part has since launched its 5G network in some cities which include Abuja, Lagos and Ibadan. The 5G network promised to enhance connectivity and stimulate broadband penetration in Nigeria.
NCC further stated that an extension sought by Standard Network can not be granted owing to the auction timetable which had earlier been published.
The statement by NCC partly read “Only Airtel paid the Intention to Bid Deposit as stipulated in the Information Memorandum (IM) whereas, Standard Network sent an email appeal for the deadline to be extended by 12 working days which was not acceptable in view of the auction timetable”.
“Having met all the provisions in the IM, Airtel has, therefore, emerged as the sole bidder. Consequently, there shall be no further bidding and the Commission will proceed to the assignment stage in line with the published Information Memorandum guiding the licensing process,” the statement added.
Airtel Africa Receives $194 Million Loan Facility From IFC
Airtel Africa partners with IFC, a member of the World Bank Group to connect even more Africa
Africa’s leading telecommunications and mobile money services, Airtel Africa has signed a new $194 million credit facility with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a subsidiary of the World Bank.
According to the telecommunications giant, the new financing facility is in accordance with the company’s strategy to improve debt within its operating firms and support operations in key African markets.
The eight years tenor credit facility will help Airtel Africa support operations and investments in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Madagascar, Niger, Republic of Congo and Zambia.
Also, it would help provide more diversified access to local funding, the company stated in a statement signed by Simon O’Hara, Group Company Secretary and obtained by Investors King.
In line with IFC requirements for a loan facility, Airtel Africa is expected to deepen its Social and Environmental Sustainability and has put in place a dedicated Environmental and Social Action plan.
This, Airtel said would deepen its commitment to changing the lives of people in the communities in which it operates and provides clarity on how the Group can help address inequality and support economic growth in these communities.
Commenting on the facility, Segun Ogunsanya, Chief Executive Officer, Airtel Africa said: “I am very excited to announce the signing of this new facility with IFC. Not only does it align with our focus on improving our balance sheet through localising debt within our OpCos, but as we make progress on our sustainability journey it also supports our commitments and ability to meet strong ESG criteria. I look forward to working closely with IFC in the coming years as we explore further opportunities to support the economies and communities where we operate.”
On the part of IFC, Sérgio Pimenta, IFC Vice President for Africa, has this to say: “The COVID-19 pandemic has made mobile connectivity even more urgent for both social and economic development. Helping more people connect to affordable and fast internet networks is a priority for IFC in Africa, especially in the continent’s lower-income countries. The partnership with Airtel Africa will help achieve this.”
MTN to Bid For Second 5G Spectrum; Other Telcos Protest
MTN to bid for a second 5g spectrum on December 16, 2022
Nigerian mobile telecommunications company, MTN has showcased a potential interest to bid for a second 5G spectrum in the forthcoming auction which is scheduled for December 19, 2022.
The potential bidding however has been opposed by other telecommunication companies which claimed the move is against the spirit of competition.
Investors King could recall that MTN and Mafab Communications won the first 3.5GHz spectrum license for a 5G network which was auctioned in December 2021 by the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC).
The highly competitive auction which took place at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja also witnessed the participation of Airtel.
Subsequently, in September 2022, MTN finally launched the 5G network to boost internet speed in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Ibadan, Kano, Owerri, and Maiduguri.
However, to access the 5G network, users will need to have compatible devices which is a bit expensive for average Nigerians.
To this end, MTN thereafter partnered with a phone financing company, Intelligra to bridge the cost of 5G-enabled smartphones.
According to MTN Chief Marketing Officer, Adia Sowho, the partnership with Intelligra is aimed to drive 5G adoption in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, barely two months after MTN launched its 5G network, the leading telecommunication company in Nigeria has showcased a potential bid for the second spectrum which is scheduled to hold on Friday.
At a stakeholders engagement meeting organised in Lagos, MTN’s General Manager, Regulatory Affairs, Ikenna Ikeme, said the company had entered the last auction in 2021 with the expectation that it was an open market and it would be allowed to participate in other auctions should the need arise.
This, however, did not go down well with other telecommunication companies which claimed that should MTN be allowed to participate in the second auction and eventually win, it will make them dormant players which could affect the overall growth of the industry.
The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Umar Garba Danbatta who presided over the engagement session noted that all contending issues will be given due consideration before the auction on Friday.
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