MainOne, IHS win NCC’s infraCos licence for broadband provisions
. Govt to privatize NigComSat by 2017
AFTER about six months of paper work and evaluation proceedings for the selection of Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos) for the country’s improved broadband provisioning, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has announced the selection of MainOne Cable Company and IHS Communications as the successful bidders for Lagos and the North Central zones respectively.
While answering questions yesterday, in Lagos, at the Fourth Industry ICT Stakeholders Forum, the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Dr. Eugene Juwah, who disclosed the selection of the two bidders, also informed that works are already on-going the suspended 2.6GHz spectrum auction, which according to him, the modalities for the sales would soon be advertised in the national dallies.
Juwah said that after due consultations and evaluations, “MainOne Cables and IHS Communications have been selected as InfraCos for Lagos and North Central respectively.”
The NCC boss informed that the licensing of other five InfraCos for the remaining geo-political zones of the country would be completed before the end of the year.
Though, the country ended 2014 with eight per cent broadband penetration in 2014, Juwah said the InfraCos are expected to further drive penetration and fast track Nigeria’s 30 per cent penetration by 2018.
Presenting her score card for the industry since she became the pioneer minister of the Ministry of Communications Technology in July 2011, Dr. Omobola Johnson said the industry has witnessed tremendous growth in the last three and half years, saying that more work still need to be done to attain the Transformation Agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan.
Johnson, who confirmed that the government would privatize the Nigerian Communications Satellite (NigComSat) by 2017, said this has become highly imperative if the facility must remain productive and perform its role efficiently.
“If the full benefits of NigComSat must be realized, it must be privatized. We hope to complete this process in another two years from now”, she stated.
The minister informed that the pivotal roles of ICTs in national development agenda cannot be overemphasized. She said ICT has intervened in governance; sustainable job creation; infrastructure development and human and social capital development.
According to her, in the area of governance, ICT promote transparency and accountability; increases the efficiency and effectiveness of government’s interface with citizens among others.
Johnson said good ICT infrastructure engenders reliable connectivity and contributes to increasing the competiveness of the nation in attracting investment.
The minister disclosed that the ICT sector has contributed immensely to the country’s GDP to the tune of about 9.58 per cent from 5.46 per cent in 2011, stressing that the country’s telecommunications sector has become one of the fastest growing sectors in the world and continues to attract significant Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs). She disclosed that additional $6 billion investment came into the sector between 2011 and 2013.
Speaking on broadband development, Johnson said the country is committed to achieving 30 per cent penetration by 2018; ensure 3G/LTE Wireless broadband coverage to 80 per cent of the population by 2018 and ensure that the minimum download speeds of 1.5Mbps is achieved in the country.
The minister also noted that the licenced InfraCos are expected to drive and deepen penetration as fast as possible, while the 2.6GHz spectrum auction would also boost the process.
Speaking to The Guardian on the selection of MainOne Cable Company as the Lagos InfraCo, the Chief Executive Officer of the company, Ms. Funke Opeke said the firm is excited about the development and “look forward to the transformation of Lagos.”
Already, MainOne landed a $250 million submarine cable about four years ago and last month unveiled is N7 billion Tier III data centre in Lagos.
It will be recalled that The Guardian had exclusively reported on October 27, 2014 that four indigenous ICT firms including MainOne Cables; Zinox Telecoms (an arm of Zinox Group); Trussnet Limited and IHS Consortium submitted bid to the NCC to become InfraCos for Lagos and the North Central.
The four firms had submitted bid since August 2014 when the commission through an advertorial called for submission of bids.
The Guardian also reported on January 6, that the NCC had eventually settled for two operators for the InfraCo License, one for the Lagos area and another for the North Central, including the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja in the first phase of the licensing, with other phases expected see an operator each licensed to service the North West; North East; South South; South West and South East.
Indeed, the winners of the Lagos and North Central regions are expected to deploy Metropolitan Optic Fibre Infrastructure and Associated Transmission Equipment on an open access, non-discriminatory, price regulated basis in the state and region respectively.