Nigeria grants UAE firm $400m Spectrum License

By Onwuka Nzeshi, This Day (Lagos)

As part of efforts geared towards developing broader bilateral economic relations between Nigeria and United Arab Emirates, the Nigeria Communications Commission has offered a Unified Access Service Licence to Mubadala Development Company of the United Arab Emirates.

The business portfolio includes the fifth and last spectrum in the Global Service for (Mobile) Telecommunications (GSM) 1800 and 900 MHz bands at a price of $400 million.

Under the terms of the licence, Mubadala would be required to pay the full license fee on or before January 19, 2007, failing which the offer shall automatically lapse.

Mubadala has accepted the terms of the offer in full while the NCC will carry out its regulatory role in implementing the agreement on behalf of the Nigerian government.

Public Affairs Manager, Nigeria Communications Commission, Dave Imoko disclosed that the Board of the Commission remained poised to continue with the licensing of radio spectrum in the 3G and 450 MHz bands.

He said these new licences will encourage the deployment of advanced technology to build on the positive development of the telecommunications sector in Nigeria.

The release of more spectrum, Imoko said, was in line with Federal Government's policy of improving access to communication services and extending coverage, especially into rural areas to enable subscribers in the currently underserved remote areas receive a wide range of quality services at reasonable cost.

The process for awarding new licences, the NCC spokesman said, has necessitated the appointment of PA Consulting Group, a leading firm of international management and telecommunications consultants.

The Unified Licensing Regime was introduced by NCC in 2006 to fast track developments in the country"s telecommunications sector noting then that a "complicated licensing regime requirements create artificial barriers to new entrants in the market and hinders effective competition.”

The Vice Chairman of the NCC, Engr Ernest Ndukwe, had described the unified license, as a tool allowing competing telecom operators and service providers to rapidly deploy new services to meet demand without having to seek new licenses.