Last month, we excitedly brought you news that the NCC was going to auction 2.6GHz to local bidders as the news signalled the much-awaited broadband penetration in Nigeria. The lots were proposedly set to be sold at $16 million apiece. A timetable for the auction had already been released, and April 29th was set as the deadline for submission of proposals.
But in a turn of events, the Nigeria Communications Commission announced it was calling off the auction because the process has produced one qualified bidder.
According to a statement from Tony Ojobo, Director Public Affairs of the NCC,
The Qualified Bidder expressed an interest to bid for Six (6) lots out of the Fourteen (14) lots on offer and paid the bid deposit as specified by the Information Memorandum on the Auction
In line with the Information Memorandum on the auction put out,
"If the aggregate demand from Approved Bidders is less than or equal to the number of lots on offer, the Commision will provisionally award the license to the party/parties at the reserve price."
This was quoted directly from the press release of the NCC on the matter.
What the above provision implies is that the Commission is calling off the auction because one person bid for six slots at $16 million apiece and the "less than or equal to" provision in the clause has deemed the whole auction unnecessary.
The whole jargon contained in the press release is a head spinner, as the aggregate demand is 6 lots out of the 14 put out. That is "less than" the number of lots on offer(14), and the approved party gets awarded their license. But what happens to the remaining 8? Who gets those? I do not see any provision in the Information Memorandum covering that aspect.
This auction seemed like the ray of hope in the dark tunnel that has become broadband penetration in Nigeria, but I wonder if calling off this auction has dimmed the light a bit or if this is a good thing in itself. Do let us know in the comment section what this clause in the provision means to you.