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FG Bars Home Based Operators From Buying M-Tel

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Following a directive from the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) has said that no telecommunications company that already has presence in Nigeria should be allowed to buy M-Tel.
The BPE Director-General, Dr. Christopher Anyanwu, said there are fears that if the privatization agency allowed any of the four GSM-licensed operators to buy M-Tel, it would present competition challenges and conflict with the regulator’s guidelines and licensing conditions.
Consequently, the BPE has blocked three international mobile operators and a local one from buying M-Tel, the GSM (Global System of Mobile Communications), component of Nitel because they already hold GSM licenses in Nigeria.
India’s state-run Mahanager Telecom Nigam has also been disqualified from bidding for Nitel because of the company’s low equity base. In addition, the government wants bidders for Nitel to have a $200 million equity base.
Mobile Telecommunication Network (MTN), Zain, Etisalat and the country’s second national carrier, Globacom, have all been blocked from buying M-Tel.
Nigeria, is Africa’s largest mobile market by subscriber base and level of investment, followed by South Africa.
The government is eager to sell its 75 per cent equity in Nitel to another core investor after it reacquired the firm from TRANSCORP on ground of breach of contract agreement.
Following that development, President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, directed that the company be sold to a new investor within 60 days following months of wrangling, political intrigues and corruption allegations by the Federal Government, BPE and NCC over the sale of the company.
The problems surrounding the sale of Nitel underline the difficulties that African governments face in privatizing incumbent telecom companies. Generally, corruption and lack of transparency among senior government officials, have been at the root of problems surrounding the privatization of African Telecom companies.
“We urge all African countries that are in the process of privatizing their incumbent operators not to make the same mistakes that have been made by the Nigerian government in the privatization of Nitel,” said Amos Manyarara, Communications Officer for Southern Africa Mobile Communication market.
The four service providers that have been blocked from the race to buy M-Tel were among many international service providers including Telefonica Consortium in Spain, Omen International in the UK, Ericsson Consortium and Galaxy Back-bone.
The NCC has also directed BPE to unbundle Nitel in units to be sold separately. Following the directive from NCC, the Nigerian government said it has started unbundling Nitel and that any of the four barred local operating mobile service providers could be allowed to purchase Nitel alone without M-Tel and SAT.3
Nitel is being unbundled into a digital mobile licensing and infrastructure (M-Tel), long-distance license and infrastructure (Fiber and microwave), international gateway and SAT-3 submarine cable access and fixed network – CDMA fixed wireless, digital switches, metropolitan fiber cable networks and external line plants cable networks.

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Inflation Rate Falls To 16.63%  – NBS

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The rate of inflation in Nigeria has declined for the sixth consecutive month to 16.63 per cent in September, which is its lowest level since January this year, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has said.
The Bureau, in its Consumer Price Index released on Friday, said the inflation rate fell by 0.38 per cent from 17.01 per cent in August.
The drop in headline inflation began in April when it fell to18.12 per cent from 18.17 per cent in March.
According to NBC, the urban inflation rate increased by 17.19 per cent (year-on-year) in September 2021 from 17.59 per cent recorded in August 2021, while the rural inflation rate increased by 16.08 per cent in September 2021 from 16.45 per cent in August 2021.
It said farm produce such as bread, cereals, cocoa, meat, coffee, tea and cocoa drove food inflation, fell to 19.57 per cent in September from 20.30 percent in August.
Other items that led to the rise in the composite food index in September included oils and fats, yam and other tubers, fish, potatoes, milk, cheese and egg.
“On month-on-month basis, the food sub-index increased by 1.26 per cent in September 2021, up by 0.20 per cent points from 1.06 per cent recorded in August 2021”, the NBS stated.
 The Statistician-General of the Federation, Simon Harry, said the fall in the inflation rate signalled an improvement in government performance and more favourable economic conditions.
“The inflation rate in Nigeria has maintained a consecutive decline in year-on-year for a period of six consecutive months, starting from March 2021 to August 2021”, he said.

By: Corlins Walter

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5G Now At 97% Completion, As NCC Moves To Auction Spectrum

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said that the plan for deployment of Fifth Generation technology in the country has gotten to 97 per cent. 
Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, disclosed this at the annual African Tech Alliance Forum with the theme ‘Embracing changes and digital transformation in the new normal’.
According to a statement titled ‘NCC update on plans for 5G deployment’ issued  by the NCC’s Deputy Manager, Public Affairs, Kunle Azeez, the commission stated that some spectrum would be auctioned.
“Already, we are set for the auction of some spectrum slots in the 3.5GHz band. The other day, I was at the National Assembly, I informed the Senate that we were 95 per cent ready for 5G.
“Today as we speak, I am delighted to tell you that we are already at 97 per cent completion. 
“The committee set up to auction the spectrum has already developed an information memorandum which is already published for inputs and comments from all industry stakeholders.
“Prior to this, a 5G deployment plan was developed and we have since secured the Federal Government’s approval”, the commission stated.
The commission also explained that because of the Covid-19 pandemic, almost every means of communication became virtual, which led to an increase in network connectivity requirements as a result of unprecedented upsurge in internet traffic.
Danbatta added that even though the network infrastructure in the nation demonstrated some capacity to contain the surge in internet traffic, a lot of work was being done by the commission to boost network capacity, sensitise the public and ensure accessibility to affordable connectivity.
“Emerging technologies such as 5G, which NCC is driving aggressively in Nigeria, Internet of Things; Cloud Computing; Quantum Computing Augmented/Virtual Reality, and similar emerging technologies are playing a critical role in improving remote communication over the internet with great user experience.
“The NCC is committed to promoting this inevitable change and enhancing user experience through effective regulation of the telecoms sector”, he stated.

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Nigeria’s Debt-To-GDP Ratio To Hit 42% By 2026 – IMF

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has projected that Nigeria’s Gross Debt-to-Gross Domestic Product ratio will rise from 35.7 per cent in 2021 to 42 per cent by 2026.
The IMF stated this in its October 2021 Fiscal Monitor Report published on its website.
It said the country’s gross debt-to-GDP ratio would increase from 35.7 per cent in 2021 to 36.9 per cent in 2022, 37.7 per cent in 2023, 39.1 per cent in 2024 and 40.6 per cent in 2025.
According to the report, the gross debt includes overdrafts from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and liabilities of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON). 
It added that the general government’s revenue-to-GDP ratio would decrease from 7.2 per cent in 2021 to 6.5 per cent in 2026, while the general government expenditure-to-GDP ratio would decrease from 13.3 per cent in 2021 to 12.6 per cent in 2026.
The global financial institution said that the general government net debt-to-GDP ratio would increase from 35.3 per cent in 2021 to 41.8 per cent in 2026.
“The overdrafts and government deposits at the Central Bank of Nigeria almost cancel each other out, and the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria debt is roughly halved,” it added.
The report said for low-income developing countries like Nigeria, average gross debt in 2021 would likely remain stable at almost 50 per cent in 2020, while debt vulnerabilities “are expected to be high.

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