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Decoding Mafab Comms That Beat Airtel to Nigeria’s 5G Licence

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Mafab comms, 5G, Network, Nigeria, technology, Africa,

Mafab Communications Limited, on Monday, emerged one of the winners for the licence of Nigeria’s fifth-generation network (5G).

The 16 months old new entrant confronted MTN Nigeria and Airtel Nigeria in the auction which the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) conducted.

Airtel Networks Limited, Mafab Communications Limited and MTN Communications Nigeria Limited competed in the bid.

The NCC conducted the bid for the three companies that met its bidding requirements.

Consequently, Globacom (Glo) and 9Mobile did not meet the requirements, a statement by the NCC stated.

According to NCC, a bidder must be able to pay a winning bid price of $273,600,000 for each lot of 100 MHz TDD.

However, it pegged the reserve price of  the network to $197.4 million for two lots of spectrum in the 3.5GHz band.

Meanwhile, at the bidding session for the 5G networks, Mafab Communications Limited flawed Airtel to win a slot.

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Airtel Nigeria had dropped out of the race as the 5G spectrum reached $275.9 million at the 11th round.

Mafab and MTN won the bid and would be paying $273.6m by February 24, 2022.

Expert doubt Mofab communications’ ability to acquire 5G network:

No doubt, experts doubt Mofab communication’s capacity to acquire and exploit the 3.5 GHz spectrum for 5G deployment.

Bidding rounds:

In the first round, NCC fixed the biding price at $199,374,000.00.

At the second round, NCC fixed $201,367,740.00 as bidding price and $204,388,356.10 at third Round.

Also, it fixed $209,407,962.50 at fourth Round and $215,782,901.30 at the fifth Round.

The auction prices increased progressively to $224,414,217.43 at the Sixth Round; $231,146,643.96 at the seventh Round; $240, 392,509.71 at the eighth Round; $251, 210,172.65 at the ninth Round; and $263,700,050.00 at the Round 10 of the auction

At the 11th Round, the bid price reached $275,904,886.25.

However, the auction ended reached conclusion as Airtel listed an exit bid of $270,000,000 and exited the bidding tussle.

Also, MTN posted an exit bid of $273,000,000. This ushered in the Assignment Stage.

Mafab Communications and MTN emerged winners of the two available lots for posting higher exit bids than Airtel.

Mafab website crashes after winning 5G licence bid:

Meanwhile, the new entrant’s website crashed as a result of exceeding its bandwidth as it got excess traffic.

This further raised the question of the capability of Mafab to handle the 5G network.

Information on Mafab’s website as at Tuesday morning read that it exceeded its Bandwidth Limit.

“Bandwidth Limit Exceeded. The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to the site owner reaching his/her bandwidth limit. Please try again later.”

Mafab Communications uncoded:

The young company’s CAC document shows it registered its office at No. 8A Ibiyinka Olorunbo Close, Off Amodu Ojikutu Street, Victoria Island, Lagos.

According to the CAC document, Mafab is a new entrant in the telecommunication sector with registration date of July 8, 2020.

The company operates under three licenses, including interconnecting exchange, international data access, and value-added services, providing cloud hosting or co-location services.

It is a technological subsidiary of Althani Group and has Dr Musbahu Mohammad Bashir as its chairman.

Information on its website reads thus:

“Althani group of companies is a corporate group of companies in Nigeria with a collection of subsidiary businesses.

“The group consists of a variety of companies with diverse objectives, cutting across several sectors including oil and gas, housing, construction, aviation, amongst others.”

Eman Homes and Estate, Althani Investment, Salam Takaful Insurance, Malband Communications Limited are some of the group’s subsidiaries.

Others are Holborn Oil and Gas international, Althani Oil and Gas Limited, Althani Shelters Limited, Pelican Air Services Limited, Cryogenic Industries Limited, Clearview Apartments, and Mafab Communications.

Meet the Chairman:

Dr Musbahu Mohammad Bashir is the Chairman of Althani Group. He owns Mafab.

Bashir is a board member of Jaiz Bank and a director in Bento Drill Nigeria Limited 1995.

Also, he is a director in these companies: Offshore Technologies International Limited 1995, and Resource Capital Group 1995.

Dr Bashir is also the Chairman of Cobalt International Services Limited, a pre-shipment Inspection Agent for dry goods and bulk liquid cargoes.

Also, he is the chairman, board of directors of Salam Takaful Insurance.

The insurance firm which is a subsidiary of Altani Group, has its headquarters in Kano state.

Bashir worked with Hammad Development Facilities in 1987 and Jadai Diversified Services in 1989.

Bashir has vast experience of more than twenty years in general management, leadership, and engineering.

According to a statement by the company, Bashir is undoubtedly a hardworking, resilient, and effective businessman with a strong personality.

He gained many certifications from high-profile institutions, including American University, London, and Harvard Business School, USA.

Implications:

Although NCC said the process was very transparent, experts are still in doubt as to the capability of a 16 months old company buying the network licence.

If the company’s website can even crash with just little more traffic, what happens with other services it would provide with the 5G network rights?

Anthony Chinonso Ogbonna is the editor of Techuncode media. He is a seasoned journalist whose stint cuts across broadcast, print and, especially, the online media. A graduate of Mass Communication from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), Anthony holds a Masters Degree in Multimedia Journalism. He aligns his belief with those of world tech communities, holding tenaciously that the world is solely driven and can only be best with tech. Furthermore, Anthony believes that technology is simple, fun and is not what one, especially Africans, should be scared of, hence, his passion for telling compelling stories about tech in ways relatable to the ordinary user. He has his hobbies in reading and designing (new hobby though.)

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