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2020 dare for 5G roll out

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said Nigeria would be ready to roll out 5G networks with the 26GHz, 38GHz and 42GHz spectrum bands by 2020.

The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, said this in Abuja Thursday during a collaborative meeting with GSMA for 5G rollout in Nigeria.

According to him, trial testing of the rollout plan has commenced in the country beginning with the Eko Atlantic Project, where broadband data will drive connectivity and allow humans to interact with connected devices to check their health status and remotely control home appliances without physical contact.

Danbatta acknowledged the deficit in infrastructure rollout and spectrum availability in the country but added that the NCC was already working to address the challenges.

He said NCC would begin with the available 26GHz, 38GHz and 42GHz to drive 5G rollout in the country.

Danbatta said, “NCC is already working on the three key factors that will drive 5G deployments, which include infrastructure, spectrum and regulation ahead of the 2020 rollout date.

“We will rely on existing policies and regulation and still come up with additional policies and regulation that will address any hiccups.”

Also speaking, the Head, sub-Saharan Africa for GSMA, Mr. Akinwale Goodluck, said although Nigeria still operates 2G and 4G networks, they will gradually give way for 5G as the demand for 5G increases among the millennial, who are the digital natives.

GSMA used the occasion of the collaborative meeting to launch its latest report, which focused on ‘Spotlight on Nigeria: Delivering a Digital Future.’

According to the report, modernising regulation and policy reform will be crucial to boosting Nigeria’s digital economy and accelerating internet access for millions through increased mobile broadband penetration.

GSMA research shows that the mobile market in Nigeria makes an important contribution to the economy. The mobile industry contributed $21 billion to GDP in 2017, representing 5.5 per cent of Nigeria’s total GDP.

In addition, the growth of Nigeria’s digital economy resulted in the creation of nearly 500,000 direct and indirect jobs, the report said.

Addressing the issue of spectrum to drive 5G rollout, GSMA identified support for and release of harmonised spectrum and a modernised licensing framework as fundamental building blocks for Nigeria’s digital future.

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Science & Technology

TCN capacity drops to 14%

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The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) has raised concern over the reduction in the load utilization of its distributor company in Odogunyan substation, Ikorodu, Lagos State to 14.8 percent.

It’s Assistant General Manager, Transmission Egbin Sub-region, Ajiboye Oluwagbenga who conducted the Federal Ministry of Power inspection team from Abuja, explained that although the 132/33KVA substation has 96megawatt (Mw) load allocation, it is currently grossly under-utilized.

He said there was high hope for demand for the load when the TCN was constructing the plant but the Ikeja Electric which is the major distributor of the power is now rejecting the load and rendering the plant almost idle.

He said: “It is a 2*60MVA. It was commissioned by the minister on May 7, 2018. Presently our projection about the loading is not being met. We have 2*60MVA which is equivalent to 96Mw. But currently, we are just making about 14Mw. This morning it was on 20Mw but now it is on 14Mw, translating to about 14.8 percent loading.”
The major target of the power consumption which is Mega Steel was utilizing 28Mw upon the commissioning of the project last year, but he noted that the dwindling economy has compelled the firm to reduce its demand for power.

According to him, before the completion of the Odogunyan project, the TCN was only wheeling power from a 132KV single line between Ikorodu and Sagamu, called 132KV single line.

He said: “With the connection of Ikorodu-Sagamu to double circuit, there is a need for additional bay at Ikorodu since it is going to be additional line now. We need to have a second bay. It is the one that is being constructed by these people. The bay which is the expansion project is almost 95 percent. Every equipment has been tested. This one will take just one day to fix this thing back. If was with Odogunyan project and it was awarded in 2010. Its commencement was 2011-2012 while completion and commissioning was in May 2018. The line will be completed in July this year. It is a different project.”

At the Odogunyan substation, the Principal Manager, System Operation Area Control, Mr. Adeniyi Adeleke appealed to the Federal Government to draft armed security personnel from the Nigerian Police and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps to take over the surveillance of the power plant.

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Power sector bailout in jeopardy

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The poor remittance levels of the 11 electricity distribution companies (Discos) in Nigeria’s privatized power market may have defeated the aim of the N701 billion bailout by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to the power generation companies and gas suppliers.

From the analysis of the market records obtained Thursday in Abuja, the original intentions of the bailout funds were to support the Gencos to continue to produce electricity for at least two years when the Discos would be able to pay substantially for power sold to them.

However, there are strong indications that this objective may not be achieved because the Discos remit an average of 25.5 percent monthly to the NBET for power sold to them as against 80 percent remittance target by the end of 2018.

The development, it was learned, means that the 80 percent Discos remittance level the NBET anticipated at the end of the disbursement of the N701 billion in December 2018 would not be feasible.

The inability of the Discos to hit the 80 percent remittance target in 2018 will also potentially weaken the capacity of NBET to repay the N701 billion in 10 years.

The NBET obtained the N701 billion facility from the CBN in 2017 to guarantee payments for electricity generated and supplied by power generation companies (Gencos).

The bailout was intended to bridge the payment shortfalls to Gencos and gas suppliers, and ultimately sustain electricity supply to Nigerians.

It was expected that at the end of the disbursement of the bailout between January 2017 and December 2018, the monthly remittances of the Discos for power supplied to them would have come up to 80 percent.
But the market remittances indicated that on the average the Discos paid 25.5 percent monthly, thus jeopardizing the intention of the bailout.

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Court issues warning to CBN,NCC over Etisalat

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A Federal High Court in Abuja has warned the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Nigerian Telecommunication Commission (NCC) and others involved in the transaction for the sale of troubled telecom firm Etisalat (9mobile) against taking further steps to conclude the sale.

The warning was informed by the claim by some aggrieved investors that despite a subsisting order of the court, made on October 10, last year, by Justice Binta Nyako, barring parties to the transaction from taking further steps pending the determination of the suit, the CBN, First Bank, and others have allegedly sold the firm and transferred its ownership.

The warning by the court is contained in Form 48 issued by the court’s Registrar, on institutions listed as defendants in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/288/2018 filed by the aggrieved shareholders, through Afdin Ventures Ltd and Dirbia Nigeria Ltd.

The Form 48 reads: “Take notice that unless you obey the directions contained in the order of the Federal High Court number three, Abuja, made on the 10th of October 2018 ordering parties to maintain status quo, with regard to the sale of Etisalat Nigeria Limited (rebranded 9mobile), you will be guilty of contempt of court and will be liable to be committed to prison.”

The affected defendants are Karington Telecommunications Ltd, Premium Telecommunications Holding NV, First Bank of Nigeria Plc, Central Bank of Nigeria, Etisalat International Nigeria Ltd (trading under the name and style of 9mobile) and the Nigerian Communication Commission.

The aggrieved subscribers, who claimed to be major investors in Etisalat, said they were excluded from the firm’s decision making and therefore want a refund of their investment estimated at $43,330,950.

Afdin and Dirbia, in newly filed court documents, alleged that the defendants have not only sold the company, despite the existing restraining order, but they have also effected a transfer of ownership to a new set of buyers.

They exhibited newspaper publications, indicating that the defendants have allegedly proceeded with the sale in breach of the pending court order.

The aggrieved shareholders, in a pre-action notice issued by their lawyer, Mahmud Magaji (SAN), are threatening to institute fresh suits against the CBN, NCC and First Bank in an effort to retrieve their investment and accrued interest.

The pre-action notice, copies of which were sighted in Abuja, were addressed to the CBN Governor and NCC Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer.

Part of the notice reads: “The intending plaintiffs, who are shareholders in Etisalat Nigeria Ltd, having purchased a total number of 1, 300,391 at $13,003,910 only and 3,300,004 Class A shares at $30,030,040) intend to sue for the recovery of their investment, dividends on their shores, and damages for breach of contract.

“Please kindly recall that, by the custodian agreement, all the shares certificates of the plaintiffs were kept under your custody.

“However, you have failed to exercise your role in good faith leading to the sale of Etisalat Nigeria Limited to Teleology Nigeria Ltd, at the detriment of our clients.

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Science & Technology

Power Supply Averages 3,952MW

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Despite the promise by the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, in October 2018 that nationwide power supply could get better with the anticipated addition of 945MW of electricity into the grid before the end of the year, the average power supply in January 2019 was below the December 2018 level,  investigation has revealed.

A data obtained from the office of the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, showed that the average power generated and distributed to Nigerians in the first one month of 2019, was 3,952 megawatts (MW), representing a decline from the level of generation in December 2018, by 141MW or 3.4 percent.

According to the data from the Advisory Power Team in Osinbajo’s office, electricity supply in December 2018, averaged 4,093MW.

However, 3,020MW was constrained from getting to homes and offices in the country, while an average of N44.9 billion worth of revenue was not earned by the market.

To attain this level of generation, 22.713 million standard feet per day (mmscfd) of gas supplied.

However, in January 2019, the average volume slightly dropped to 3,952MW with 2,782MW constrained, N41.3 billion unearned and 21.472mmscfd of gas supplied, indicating a drop in gas supply to power plants by 1.241mmscfd.

Fashola had promised that the nationwide power supply could get better with an additional 945MW of electricity expected to be added to the national grid before the end of 2018.

The minister had while speaking at a business breakfast meeting of the Nigeria-South Africa Chamber of Commerce in Lagos which was themed: ‘Power Sector and the Way Forward,’ said then that additional power would be generated to the national grid from the 450MW Azura Edo power plant; 215MW Kaduna power plant; 240MW Afam-V power plant; and 40MW Kashimbilla hydro plant, by the end of 2018.

He had stated that the power sector had recorded successful improvements in its generation, transmission, and distribution sub-sectors.

But the January power supply data showed that only the 450MW-capacity Azura Edo power plant was on to the grid while the other three are not.

Azura had, however, in April 2018, announced the completion of its plant, indicating that all of its three turbines with a collective output of 450MW have been deployed in Nigeria’s national grid.

Additionally, four existing plants – Sapele; AES; ASCO and Olorunsogo NIPP plants were shut down within the period of January 2019, while power supply in 12 out of the 31 days in the month were below 4,000MW unlike in December 2018 when it was below 4,000MW only two days.

THISDAY gathered from the data that in January that the sector recorded a lot of water management issues, which according to experts, could have resulted from the gravity of water levels in the country’s hydropower plants, while other grid-related constraints also persisted during the month under review.

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