By Uche Amunike
The Buhari-led government of Nigeria, yesterday, earned the sum of N547.2m as MTN Nigeria and Mafab Communications Ltd came out winners of the keenly-contested 3.5GHz spectrum auction for 5G deployment in the country by paying N273.6m each.
MTN also paid $15,900,000 to get Lot 1 of the spectrum while Mafab Communications Ltd paid additional $11,120,000 million to get Lot 2.
The mock auction exercise had three eligible bidders in participation last Friday before the main auction which took place yesterday, at Abuja.
The three eligible bidders that participated in both the mock and main auctions were MTN Nigeria, Mafab Communications Limited and Airtel Networks Limited.
The bidding started at 11am and was keenly contested and closed at exactly 7:22pm. The three bidders reached the 11th round of the bidding process but Airtel Network withdrew after the 11th round at $270m.
While announcing the main auction results, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof Umar Garba Danbatta stated that the provisional licence will be given to Mafab communications Ltd and MTN Nigeria.
Dambatta stated that the two winners entered into another stage of auction known as the Assignment Stage to find out which operator takes a particular lot of the two lots that were auctioned. He further explained that the winners would make full payments for the licence by February 24 2022 and must be paid in Naira.
MTN was represented by its Chief Executive Officer, Mr Karl Toriola. Airtel on their part was represented by her Chief Financial Officer, Mr Sreedhar Krishna Menon, while Mafab Comminications limited was represented by its Chairman, Alhaji Musibau Bashir.
Each bidder initially paid N7.5b to qualify for the bidding which was a 10% non-refundable deposit of the N750b ($197.4m).
The three bidders contested for two slots of 100MHz in the 3.5GHz spectrum licence and each bidder contested for one lot.
Prior to the commencement of the auction sales, the Auction Manager who is the Director of Spectrum Administration at NCC, Oluwatoyin Asaju, showed each of the three bidders their bedrooms and accredited one representative from each of the bidding operators as monitoring agent.
MTN was assigned bidding room 2 and monitoring room 3. Airtel was assigned bidding room 3 and monitoring room 1, while Mafab Communication limited was assigned to bidding room 1 and monitoring room 2.
The entire bidding process was transmitted real time to two broad screens positioned at a general location inside the Transcorp Hotel where observers including journalists were seated, for the sake of transparency.
Asaju stated that the first round of bidding was compulsory for all three bidders and each bidder had the right to exit bidding at any of the bidding rounds, but by around 11, all three bidders with a bid price of $275,904,886.25m. The curtain was drawn at the main stage auction by 7:22pm with round 11 with a winning bid price of $273,600,000m.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ibrahim Pantami stated while declaring the auction open, that the Federal Executive Council approved the National 5G policy for Nigerian digital economy on September 8 2021, adding that the national policy contained all the necessary information guiding the processes and procedures for the development of 5G in Nigeria.