MTN skipped Nigeria to launch the 4G LTE service in Rwanda and Ghana. Yes, that’s no news. The move caught most people unawares. But it appears the reason isn’t as bleak as we all made it out to be.
Some time back, the NCC opened the auction of 2.6GHz band licenses to interested parties. Two months after, the auction was called off, as it had produced “one qualified” bidder. According to the NCC, the auction will no doubt bring a fresh breath of air to investors and also create a robust internet infrastructure across the 36 states of the federation.
Where MTN comes in
The said auction was an open bid if I recall, meaning it was an invitation thrown to many. A total of 14 slots were opened to interested operators within and outside the shores of Nigeria and that gave MTN full right to stake interest. But staking interest would be quite underwhelming to describe the situation, MTN went ahead to put their money where their mouth was, as latest reports reveal. Did they then outbid the others? The answer is they turned out to be the only bidder.
MTN Nigeria yesterday announced that it has paid ₦18.96 billion licence fees after winning in a national broadband spectrum auction in what seemed to have the telecommunication company as sole bidder.
The case for the skipped activation
“Why did MTN skip Nigeria to launch 4G LTE mobile services in Rwanda” is an article that outlines a lot of Nigerian worries about the super-internet benefit we’ve possibly been denied for reasons we barely have a full grip of. Then add Ghana to it as well, the result you get is much rather sour to say the least. Suffice to say that we can blame this on anything but MTN Nigeria. You’d quite agree these things take time to fall into place, more so in a country like Nigeria where bureaucratic processes gradually seem to be pervasive, having been passed down from pot-bellied political leaders who take pride in using the entire time at their disposal in making a law, and even longer time to enforce such laws. How difficult can it be I mean, but who cares? Well a lot actually.
Apparently the future of MTN is Nigeria
Since it was fined by the NCC, MTN lost its position as Africa’s most valued telecommunication company. However, the company is evidently in a race to return to former glory. While that plan is being mapped out, like we’ve seen in the case of their recent hierarchical restructuring, they cannot afford to extend further losses on market share or risk further fall out with both current and potential customers. This underscores why MTN needed to explore other avenues (Rwanda and Ghana) to fuel its activities and keep the name of the brand alive till it sorts out issues where it’s real market lies; as efforts are currently being intensified to channel the proposed capital expenditure, earmarked to boost infrastructure, nowhere else other than Nigeria.
For those that are thinking Nigeria is a lost cause where MTN is concerned, it’s the exact opposite. Think of it like they are reserving all the goodies so we could enjoy in the days ahead. It makes sense don’t you think?
MTN’s new CEO, Rob Shuter may be far from resuming office, but the promised mobile broadband boom may yet be closer than speculation suggests. The same announcement that revealed MTN as sole bidder and winner in the auction also further stated that MTN Nigeria has confirmed payment of ₦30 billion to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) as part of the renegotiated ₦330 billion punitive fine imposed on the telecoms company for 5.1 million unregistered phone subscribers.
With that, the future certainly looks bright for MTN and even better for Nigeria(ns).
Jan. 18: Bonus Built in Africa episode: Town Hall meeting with Peter Salovey, President of Yale University
On March 25, 2021, Techpoint Africa will be hosting the brightest minds in decentralised finance/crypto at the Digital Currency Summit tagged “Building the money of the future” Click here for more details, registration and sponsorship. Location: Fourpoint by Sheraton, V.I. Lagos.