Nigeria’s federal government on Thursday in Abuja, officially handed over Spectrum Allocation for 5G deployment to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami, who doubles as the Chairman of the National Frequency Management Council (NFMC), did the official handover of the Spectrum Allocation for 5G licence to the NCC during a workshop on the National Policy on 5G Networks and handover of Spectrum Allocation for deployment, in Abuja.
Aside the official handover of the 5G spectrum to the NCC, the Minister also did an official public handover of the National Policy on 5G Network for Nigeria’s Digital Economy to the NCC.
Based on the official handover of the 5G spectrum, the NCC was expected to licence winners of the 5G spectrum after February 27, when it must have given full update of the payment of the licence fees by the winners, to enable 5G network rollout in the country.
NCC was expected to make formal announcement on the update of payment for 5G licence on February 27, 2022, in line with the Information Memorandum for 3.5GHz spectrum, which is the 5G licence spectrum.
The Commission had on December 13, 2021, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, successfully auctioned two slots in the 3.5GHz spectrum band to MTN Nigeria Plc and Mafab Communications Limited, at a bid price of $273.6 million for each operator.
The successful auction of the 3.5GHz spectrum band would pave way for the issuance of a fifth generation (5G) licence that would facilitate the deployment of 5G network across Nigeria.
After the successful auction of the spectrum, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, had announced that the winners were expected to make payment for the spectrum license, on or before February 24, 2022, to enable them roll out the 5G network across the country.
Before the successful spectrum auction in December last year, the Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT), was occupying five slots in the 3.5GHz spectrum, but vacated two slots, which were handed over to the National Frequency Management Council, chaired by the Minister.
Pantami advised state governors to look beyond the money they would collect from network operators who will deploy the 5G in their states, but see the gain that its deployment would bring to their respective states and the Nigerian economy in general.
Pantami said, “The issue of right of way becomes a challenge from time to time. The government has addressed the issue more than ninety per cent but from time to time issues may come. I do hope that they will understand the economic benefit. The security benefits and many more of these technological advancement.
“It is beyond right of way charges. It goes beyond that. So let us try to make the process very easy for operators so that they will be able to deploy 5G.”
He added that the adoption of 5G technologies and its roll out would support in the development of Nigeria’s digital economy
“5G will provide very fast and reliable communication for our security personnel and allow then to swiftly access relevant data required to carry out their duties. The time required to access data for records from hours minutes.
“5G will allow for real time high quality and data intensive surveillance of relevant areas using high definition cameras.
“Emerging technologies like Blockchain can significantly improve transparency to the delivery of government services at all levels.
“The World Economic Forum attests to the potential of Blockchain to increase the efficiency and fairness of government system and by extension limit opportunities for corruption.
It can significantly improve transparency in procurement procedures enhance land and registry system, ensure that government documents are not accessed by unauthorised personal,” he stressed
The minister also spoke on the national policy on 5G deployment in the country, saying, “the National Policy for 5G diploma in Nigeria for our country’s digital economy is also going to be distributed after the luncheon we use the occasion for the public presentation of the policy and we encourage our stakeholders to look into it and ensure a very successful implementation of the policy on what we had been doing.
“According to February 2021 report by Accentuate, 5G-enabled factories can see up to 2O-30 per cent in overall productivity gains including improvement of 50 per cent in assemble time.
These are only a few examples to show how 5G can have a positive impact on our economy,” he added.
In his contribution, Danbatta said: “On the 25th January, 2022, President Muhammadu Buhari, unveiled the National Policy on 5G Networks at the Presidential Villa.
“This singular action triggered today’s event – the presentation of the 5G policy to the general public and for our critical stakeholders to officially witness the National Frequency Management Council presenting the Spectrum allocated for 5G technology to the Nigerian Communications Commission. To all members of the National Frequency Management Council, your efforts are truly appreciated and your recommendations have been immensely helpful.”
Former Secretary General and Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) and CEO of Tetconsult, UK and Nigeria, Shola Taylor, who presented the lead paper on the benefits of 5G deployment in Nigeria, said: “5G is a reality and the impact on our lives is real and the benefits are endless. Nigeria is already in it. We have started well and must be prepared for the disruption that will come in spite of the challenges. We cannot go back. We cannot remain where we are so the only option is to move forward and move quickly.”
Giving details about 5G network, Taylor said 5G would continue to be attractive and revolutionary in nation building because it offers lower latency, higher capacity, and increased bandwidth. “This means higher data speeds, faster connections for use by individuals and businesses,” Taylor added.
The Director General, National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Aliyu Aziz, said the success of the implementation of the policy would largely depend of good collaboration between all stakeholders in the country.
Also, the Director General Galaxy Back Bone, Prof. Mohammed Abubarka, said the deployment of 5G and the implementation of the nation’s digital policy would help to achieve President Buhari’s government’s transparency and boost the economy.
Emma Okonji in Lagos and Oghenevwede Ohwovoriole in Abuja