The new owners of Nigerian Telecommunication Limited (NITEL), NATCOM Development and Investment Limited, and its sister company, Mobile Telecommunication Limited (Mtel), has reportedly spent about $1 billion to revive the beleaguered national carrier.
The chairman of NATCOM, Mr Olatunde Ayeni, said that the funds and other efforts would see the company engage 4,000 employees by March as it sets to roll out its mobile lines and 4G/LTE services for broadband users.
Ayeni told House of Representatives Joint Committees on Communication and Privatisation that his company would begin a phased rollout from Abuja, Lagos, and Port Harcourt before expanding to other parts of the country.
He disclosed that the initial financial bid was increased to $252.251 million from $221 million when juxtaposed with the liquidator’s reserved price of $256 million.
NATCOM acquired assets and licences of NITEL and MTEL, percentage interest held in South-Atlantic 3 (SAT-3) consortium, and identifiable assets capable of generating viable business units.
“NATCOM’s full submission was duly made to NITEL/MTEL’s liquidator and Nigeria’s Bureau of Public Enterprises on November 7, 2014. NATCOM’s submission was accompanied by a bid bond to the tune of $10 million as stipulated in the liquidator’s RFP,” he said.
He disclosed that $10 million had been spent on SAT-3 system, quarterly dues to the consortium, system expansion and upgrade since the acquisition, adding that the Nigerian Communications Commission had assigned another set of microwave frequency ranges to NATCOM upon request for N176.8 million, computed on the basis of 800 base stations network in the first instance.
NATCOM was requested to pay an additional N6.6 billion to bridge the shortfall of the value of the naira to the dollar from N168 to N197 after the payment of the first installment of 30 per cent of the bid price within 14 days of approval by the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) and balance within 90 days, Ayeni said.