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

    African tech startup funding hits $3.3B in 2022

    Investment in Africa's tech startup ecosystem passed $3 billion for the first time in 2022, with Nigeria taking the biggest piece of pie and fintech dominating other sectors, according to a report from Disrupt Africa.

    Story

    Connecting Africa Podcast: S2 Ep. 4 – Agri-fintech, from kibbutz to Kenya

    The Connecting Africa Podcast team speak to Israeli-Kenyan startup Avenews' co-founder and CEO, Shalom Ben-Or, about his fintech super-app that has been built specifically for Africa's agriculture industry.

    More Innovation hub

    Flash poll

    All polls

    Partner perspectives

    All Partner Perspectives

    Africa Tech Perspectives

    Story

    Women in Tech: Spotlight on inclusivity with Digital Council Africa's Juanita Clark

    Digital Council Africa founder and CEO, Juanita Clark, talks to Connecting Africa as part of our Women's Month series about her career and what needs to be done to make the tech industry intentionally inclusive.

    Story

    Women in Tech: Spotlight on legal tech with Life.file's Sinal Govender

    Life.file co-founder, Sinal Govender, talks to Connecting Africa as part of our Women's Month series about her career and how we can encourage more young girls to enter the legal tech field.

    Story

    Digital inclusion as a catalyst for economic empowerment: Mastercard's Imelda Ngunzu

    Mastercard's Imelda Ngunzu talks to Connecting Africa about how digital payment solutions and mobile money are transforming the lives of small business owners, women and marginalized groups in East Africa.

    More AfricaCom perspectives

    Latest video

    More videos

    Industry announcements

    More Industry announcements

    Guest Perspectives

    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.

    Story

    Omdia View: June 2022

    By Omdia Analysts

    5G was the major news trend across Africa in June, as Orange became the first operator to launch 5G in Réunion and operators in Senegal accelerated their 5G plans despite spectrum delays.

    More Guest Perspectives

    Sponsored video

    More videos

    Like us on Facebook

    Newsletter Sign Up


    Sign Up