Connecting Africa is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 3099067.

MTN and newcomer Mafab snap up 5G licenses in Nigeria

Article Image
MTN Nigeria, part of the South African MTN Group, managed to get its hands on one of two hotly contested 5G licenses following an auction that took place on Monday.

However, Airtel Nigeria, owned by the Bharti Airtel Group, dropped out of proceedings after bidding exceeded its exit offer of $270 million in the eleventh round. MTN prevailed, and will now pay $273.6 million for a 100MHz slice of the frequency band.

In what seems to have come as a surprise to many, a little known company called Mafab Communications emerged as the winner of the second license, and will also pay $273.6 million for 100MHz of the 3.5GHz band. The reserve price set before the auction was $197.4 million.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) said the provisional winners are expected to pay the winning bid price less their deposit by February 24, 2022.

The bidders have now moved into the assignment state, with MTN offering $15.9 million to secure its preferred lot 1 (3.5GHz-3.6GHz). Mafab has therefore been allotted lot 2 (3.7GHz-3.8GHz).

Omdia, a sister company of Light Reading, has previously reported that licensees must launch commercial services within 12 months of the license issue date.

As specific 5G use cases are rare, Nigerian operators are expected to promote faster connectivity initially. Omdia forecasts that 5G will represent 15% of Nigeria's 263 million mobile subscriptions in 2026.

In the fixed wireless broadband segment, fixed wireless broadband combining 4G and 5G will represent 90% of the over 4 million fixed broadband subscriptions in the country in 2026, the research firm said.

Odd couple

MTN Nigeria CEO Karl Toriola noted that the auction came at a good time "as we count down the last few hours to the close of the MTN Group's ongoing offer for sale of shares in MTN Nigeria." The offer period began on December 1 and closes at 5 p.m. local time today.

MTN Group announced in November that it was moving forward with plans to sell down 14% of its shareholding in MTN Nigeria. The group currently holds a 78.8% stake in MTN Nigeria.

Nigeria is a profitable market for MTN, and its biggest on the continent. The pan-African telco's latest quarterly trading update shows that service revenue in Nigeria grew 23.7% to N1.2 trillion (US$2.93 billion) for the first nine months of the year and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) grew by 27.4% to N634.5 billion ($1.54 billion).

MTN Nigeria has about 67.5 million subscribers but saw a 10% drop year-on-year due to regulatory restrictions on new SIM sales and activations in the West African nation.

Meanwhile, little appears to be known about Mafab, which was incorporated on July 8, 2020, and licensed by the NCC to provide and operate local interconnect and international carrier services. Mafab is part of the Althani Group, a business conglomerate chaired by businessman Musbahu Muhammad Bashir.

According to its website, "Althani group of companies is a corporate group of companies in Nigeria with a collection of subsidiary businesses."

*Top image source: Reuters/Alamy Stock Photo

  • Omdia View: October 2021
  • MTN Group keeps growth going in Q3
  • HPE makes a play for the 5G core
  • Networks bearing up to demand in COVID-19 era, finds Nokia research
  • With COVID-19 comes the real dawn of the digital age
  • — Anne Morris, contributing editor, special to Connecting Africa

    Innovation hub

    Story

    Hot startup of the month: Pan-African fintech KamaPay

    This month's hot startup is pan-African fintech KamaPay, which helps individuals and businesses make cross-border payments on the continent.

    Story

    Afretec awards $3.3M in grants to African research teams

    The African Engineering and Technology Network (Afretec) has awarded grants worth $300,000 each to 11 university research teams across Africa to advance digital technologies.

    More Innovation hub

    Latest video

    More videos

    Sponsored video

    More videos

    Industry announcements

    More Industry announcements

    Flash poll

    All polls

    Africa Tech Perspectives

    Story

    Deep dive into East Africa's tech startup ecosystem

    New survey reveals a lack of access to investors, reliance on international VCs and global recession trends as the biggest barriers for East African tech startups to access funds.

    Story

    Challenges and opportunities for women's tech careers

    A new survey reveals that COVID-19, the cost-of-living crisis, skills shortages and a lack of mentorship have negatively affected women's career development over the past two years.

    Story

    Survey: Opportunities for Women in Tech

    Take our new survey for women across Asia, Europe and Africa looking at the biggest challenges and opportunities for women-led enterprises and trends in tech careers for women.

    More AfricaCom perspectives

    Upcoming events

    London Tech Week
    June 13-16, 2023
    Queen Elizabeth II Centre, Broad Sanctuary, London SW1P 3EE
    Cybertech Africa 2023
    August 1-2, 2023
    Kigali Convention Center, Kigali, Rwanda
    Africa Tech Festival, Home of AfricaCom and AfricaTech
    November 13-16, 2023
    CTICC, Cape Town
    More Upcoming events

    Guest Perspectives

    Story

    Omdia View: February 2023

    By Omdia Analysts

    In February 2023 key events in the Middle East and Africa included a major Internet project for Africa's underserved by Liquid Intelligent Technologies and Microsoft as well as a 5G launch in Tanzania – that and more in this month's Omdia View.

    Story

    Omdia View: July 2022

    By Omdia Analysts

    Kenya and Zambia move towards 5G with new spectrum allocations while Tunisie Telecom plans to shut down its 3G network - that and more in this month's Omdia View.

    More Guest Perspectives

    Partner perspectives

    All Partner Perspectives

    Like us on Facebook

    Newsletter Sign Up


    Sign Up