NITEL/MTEL to begin operations in March

By The Rainbow

The Nigerian Telecommunication Limited (NITEL) and its sister company, Mobile Telecommunication Limited (Mtel), will soon bounce back, as early as March of this year, thanks to the privatisation of the hitherto moribund company.

To revive the former telecommunications monopoly, NATCOM Development and Investment Limited, its new owners, has reportedly shelled out  $1 billion, Chairman of NATCOM, Mr. Olatunde Ayeni, told told House of Representatives Joint Committees on Communication and Privatisation

He appeared before the committee to answer questions about the exercise that saw his come takeover the assets of NITEL/MTEL.

It will be recalled that the National Council on privatisation through its secretariat- the Bureau of Public Enterprises- made about three futile attempts to sell the telecommunications giant, with all of them falling short because failure of bidders to meet financial obligations.

The funds currently deployed  and other efforts, Ayeni said,  would see the company engage 4,000 employees by March, as it sets to roll out its mobile lines, and 4G/LTE services for broadband users.

He said that the company would begin a phased rollout from Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt before expanding to other parts of the country.

The NATCOM chairman said   that the initial financial bid was increased to $252.251 million from $221 million when juxtaposed with the liquidator’s reserved price of $256 million.

NATCOM acquired assets and licences of NITEL and MTEL, percentage interest held in South-Atlantic 3 (SAT-3) consortium, and identifiable assets capable of generating viable business units.

“NATCOM’s full submission was duly made to NITEL/MTEL’s liquidator and Nigeria’s Bureau of Public Enterprises on November 7, 2014. NATCOM’s submission was accompanied by a bid bond in the amount of $10 million as stipulated in the liquidator’s RFP,” he said.

He disclosed that $10 million had been spent on SAT-3 system, quarterly dues to the consortium, system expansion and upgrade since the acquisition, adding that the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) had assigned another set of microwave frequency ranges to NATCOM upon request for N176.8 million, computed on the basis of 800 bases station network in the first instance.

NATCOM was requested to pay an additional N6.6 billion to bridge the shortfall of the value of the Naira to the Dollar from N168 to N197, after the payment of the first installment of 30 per cent of the bid price within 14 days of approval by the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) and balance within the 90 days, Ayeni said.