Can a new GSM operator emerge from Nitel’s privatisation?

Telecoms

Director General of the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE) Dr. Christopher Anayanwu said at the weekend in Abuja that despite the ailing nature of the Nigeria Telecommunication Limited (Nitel) there exists a possibility of another GSM company emerging from the sale.

Anyanwu who disclosed this during an interactive session with newsmen further explained that NITEL currently has a CDMA network that can fetch between two to three billion US Dollars if auctioned by the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC). This he said explained would further expand the space, create more competition, open the market more and crash the tariffs

Saud Anyanwu, "There is a CDMA network that covers the whole country. It has its own frequency intact. The license alone can be sold by NCC and that can yield about $2 or $3 million, but this is a license with an equipment on the ground.

"So, any company can acquire that and run a mobile network. In any case we want to create more competition, open the market more and get lower tariffs because all of us use mobile phones and we know the problems with the way billings and everything and there is some sort of monopoly and we are helpless."

The DG also provided update on the current efforts of the new board of NITEL to find a buyer for the company. He said so far the privatization process was on course and working as scheduled. He disclosed that so far it has gotten expressions of interest from 14 companies and still counting.

He described most of the offers as coming from very serious players in the telecommunication sector including Glo, MTN, Etisalat and some other serious foreign operators.

Commenting on the 60-day timeline given the board by the Federal Government to dispose of Nitel, Anyanwu said there was nothing sacrosanct about the deadline and that the board was working in concert with Government , noting that if the need arose for a shift in the deadline action, it could be done.

The DG further disclosed that one of the efforts the board is putting in place is to get most of the Nitel facilities functional in order to attract higher offer from the would-be buyers."Presently we are about to do due diligence where they will all come and see the assets of Nitel. We must one way or another get the assets functioning i.e. power them up nationwide so that they will see that they are not buying a carcass but that they are investing in an on-going business”.

"So, we are seeking approval to get some people and get some funds to test-run the entire structure and see that it is working so that the investor will know that he is investing into something that is working," Anyanwu said.

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