21 March 2018

Nigeria: 9Mobile - National Interest'll Guide Issuance of Licence to Successful Bidder - NCC

Lagos — Telecoms industry regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, has emphasized that the interest of Nigeria as a whole, betterment of the telecom industry, subscribers, labour force will guide its issuance of a licence to any company that "will take over" Emerging Markets Telecommunications Service, EMTS, trading as 9Mobile.

This was contained in a letter by the regulator to the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, a copy of which was sighted by Vanguard ,yesterday.

The letter, signed by NCC Chairman, Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye was dated March 16, 2018, and copied the Interim Chairman of 9Mobile Board. Senator Durojaiye implored the CBN Governor to use his "good offices to take into consideration all the issues raised."

The NCC Chairman in the letter said that the regulator "was keen on obtaining an up-date on the situation of things in the company" as it appears that "the creditor banks only focus essentially on repayment of outstanding loans while the interest of the Commission is the continuity of the company for the betterment of the telecom industry, subscribers, labour force, and the interest of Nigeria as a whole."

Senator Durojaiye's letter in full:

"I write to call your attention to the stand of the Governing Board of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) with regard to the on-going discussions on the sale of 9-Mobile telecoms company.

The two Interim topmost officers of 9-Mobile were invited to meet the Governing Board of the NCC on Thursday, February 22, 2018 at 10am. The Interim Chief Executive Officer of the company, Mr. Boye Olusanya arrived on time. Dr. Okwu Joseph Nnanna, a Deputy Governor of the Central bank and Interim Chairman of the Board of 9-Mobile neither turned up nor did the Central bank officer he told us on phone as his representative ever attend the meeting.

"After waiting for four hours we called Mr. Olusanya in. He gave us illuminating answers to the many questions raised by our Board members.

"Apart from briefs from the management officers of our commission and the frequent newspaper reports and comments on 9-Mobile, the Board was keen on obtaining an up-date on the situat6ion of things in the company direct from the two topmost officers of the company for the following reasons:

"1. That whichever company would qualify as successful bidder to take over 9-Mobile has the technical competence apart from financial capability to turn round 9-Mobile and not further compound its problems.

"2. That the successful bidder should come in with substantial funds (FOREX) to sustain the industry not just recycling funds facilities already within the economy.

"3. That the company that will take over should have adequate technical infrastructure on ground as it appears that the creditor banks only focus essentially on repayment of outstanding loans while the interest of the commission is the continuity of the company for the betterment of the telecom industry, subscribers, labour force and the interest of Nigeria as a whole.

In summary, the stand of our Board is as stated in the attached press release signed by me on February 22, 2018 and given to the CEO of 9-Mobile with our request that a copy of same should be forwarded to the Chairman, Dr. Nnanna. The second paragraph of the statement is reproduced below as a matter of emphasis and in exercise of our responsibility to issue telecommunication licences as provided by the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003 Section 19 Sub-section 4 (1) e).

"The NCC Board will not allow what happened to Etisalat to repeat itself. Therefore, the Board will scrutinise the technical capability and pedigree of whatever company/companies are recommended as preferred bidders as regards their records in the immediate past 3-5 years before any of them is considered qualified to be issued a licence.

This is in the overall national interest of Nigeria.

"Premised on the above, I implore you to kindly use your good officers to take into consideration all the issues raised above before recommending a "preferred bidder" to our Board for the approval of a 'LICENCE'.

"We believe this will safeguard 9-Mobile from collapse and to raise enough funds to clear the debts inherited from Etisalat. This is in the overall best interest of the communication industry, the shareholders, the subscribers, the labour force and the entire country.

"Till we hear from you, please be assured of our highest regards."

Nigeria

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