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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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Billionaire, Otedola sells off Forte Oil

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Billionaire businessman, Femi Otedola has revealed that he has sold his interests in Forte Oil.

Otedola made the revelation on Wednesday on his verified Instagram handle, adding that he has moved on from being a player in the petroleum industry to focusing on his power generation business.

The businessman, who shared photos of the different brand changes that the oil company had undergone, wrote: “A few years ago, my team and I embarked on an arduous task of transforming a moribund petroleum marketing business, African Petroleum Plc (formerly British Petroleum) into Forte Oil Plc; a leading integrated solutions provider with solid footprints in downstream petroleum marketing, Upstream Services and Power Generation and one in which we built intrinsic value to the benefits of our shareholders.

“In line with my principle of business focus, we have divested from our marketing and upstream businesses and shall from now on focus and consolidate on the gains of our power generation business, Geregu Power Plc.

“We wish our successors the very best and urge them to build on our legacies which have been established since 1964.”

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Gencos may get fresh N600bn Palliatives

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The Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc (NBET) has recommended additional N600 billion under the ‘Payment Assurance Guarantee (PAG)’ for the power generation companies (Gencos).

PAG was first set up in 2017 by the NBET to, among other objectives, mitigate the financial constraints of the Gencos, who as a result of the poor remittances from power distribution companies (Discos), do not get enough money for the power they generate. The initial fund worth N701 billion covered the Gencos’ revenue shortfalls between 2017 and end of 2018.

However, reliable sources within the power ministry, NBET, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and industry operators disclosed that a N600 billion extension package may have been worked out and approved by the government, to continue the scheme and keep Gencos and gas suppliers running.

These sources, however, explained the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which provided the first N701 billion package to the NBET on terms that included the bulk trader repaying the loan in 10 years, would also disclose the terms for the new package.

The Association of Power Generating Companies (APGC), said they were yet to be informed of the new funding window. They also noted that such funding would be another palliative to the financially-distressed Nigeria’s power sector.

“As far as we are concerned, it’s a rumour until we receive a formal notification,” said the Executive Secretary of APGC, Dr Joy Ogaji.

Ogaji, further stated: “Relative to how we feel as Gencos, these are palliatives to the symptomatic decadence of the sector. Until the government decides to move from palliatives to cure, we will continue in this unending and incomprehensive dance.”

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s electricity generation capacity has continued to wobble with the average volume of power generated into the grid in seven days – between June 5 and 11, almost at per with the volume that was not generated due to multiple constraints.

Records from the Advisory Power Team in the Office of the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, indicated that between these periods, the country’s average daily power supply was 3,483 megawatts (MW), while constrained volume was 3,031MW, resulting to a financial loss of N10.184 billion.

It explained the highest generation volume for the period was 3778.84MW generated on June 5, while the lowest was 3166.65MW on June 6. Similarly, the country had the highest volume of constrained electricity for this period on June 6 when 4161.7MW could not be generated and the lowest of 2794.5MW unavailable on June 10. Gas supply, water management, transmission and distribution constraints were reportedly responsible for this.

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Airtel wants to join MTN at NSE

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Airtel Africa Ltd, a subsidiary of Indian telecoms group, Bharti Airtel Ltd, is considering a stock market flotation in London, designed to expand its data and mobile money services across Africa. The telecoms company has also indicated interest to list on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), which is one of the 14 countries where it currently operates.

When listed on the NSE, Airtel will become the second telecommunication company in Nigeria to be so listed.
Nigeria’s biggest telecommunication by market share, MTN, on May 16, 2019, listed 20.35 billion shares on the Nigerian bourse at N99 per share.

Airtel Africa is aiming to raise about $1 billion in a June equity offering, a source close to the deal said.
Airtel operates in 14 African markets, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, Uganda, and Zambia.

Last year, the telecom operator raised $1.25 billion from six global investors, including SoftBank Group Corp, Warburg Pincus LLC, and Temasek Holdings (Private) Ltd.
A further $200 million was raised in January from the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), valuing the company just under $5 billion.

A report by Reuters said Airtel Africa is looking to trade on the main market of the London Stock Exchange, using its premium listing segment, which has more stringent rules than the European Union’s minimum requirements and sells 25 percent of new shares to reduce existing debts.

The cash injection from current investors has already helped to reduce Airtel Africa’s net debt to $4 billion in March, compared to $7.7 billion in the previous year.

Its net income reached $83 million in the year to March, compared to a net loss of $49 million a year earlier.
The Chief Executive Officer of Airtel Africa, Raghunath Mandava, in a statement, said: “The 14 countries where we operate offer strong GDP growth potential and have young and fast-growing populations, low customer and data penetration and inadequate banking infrastructure. These fast-growing markets provide us a great opportunity to grow both our telecom and payments businesses.”

Indian owner, Bharti Airtel, last year ditched the Initial Public Offering (IPO) of African mobile phone mast firm Helios Towers, without giving any reason.
A source said at that time the expected IPO price was too low for shareholders who had been valuing the firm at as much as $2.8 billion, according to Reuters.

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MTN has paid N275bn SIM infraction fine

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The Nigerian Communications (NCC) yesterday disclosed that MTN Nigeria has so far paid N275 billion to the Federal Government as part of the N330 billion imposed on the telco for failing to disconnect unregistered SIMs.

Described as a landmark sanction in the industry, the regulator had initially imposed N1.04 trillion fine on MTN for the infraction. That was, however, reduced to N330 billion after months of negotiations. Part of the fallout of the negotiated terms of payment of the fine was the listing of MTN on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), and that was done last week.
According to NCC, based on the staggered payment arrangement, MTN now has a deadline of May 31 to pay the sixth and final tranche of the balance of N55 billion.
After six months of negotiation and re-negotiation over the fine which led to the reduction to N330 billion, it was agreed that MTN would pay a balance of N280 billion in six tranches. This was in addition to the “goodwill” payment of N50 billion earlier made by MTN to the government.

Specifically, MTN began the payment structure with the payment of N30 billion into NCC’s Treasury Single Account (TSA) with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) 30 days from the date of the agreement dated June 10, 2016.
Subsequently, MTN paid N30 billion on March 31, 2017; N55 billion on March 31, 2018; N55 billion on December 31, 2018, and on March 31, it paid N55 billion.

It will be recalled that the NCC, on October 20, 2015, imposed a fine of N1.04 trillion on MTN for infraction of the provision of the NCC Telephone Subscribers Registration Regulations 2011; for failure to disconnect 5.2 million improperly-registered Subscriber Identification Modules (SIM) lines within the prescribed deadline, because these lines had economic activities on them without proper registration.

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