NCC warns against speculative reports on 9mobile sale

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By Prince Osuagwu
The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, Thursday warned the public against relying on speculative reports on the process of 9mobile sale.

Umaru Garba Danbatta, New NCC boss

The commission said that several reports that did not tally with the process have been making the rounds in the past few weeks, but however, advised that until official statements which will involve the two regulators, the NCC and the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN is out, every other information on the sale of 9mobile should be taken with a pinch of salt.

Executive Commissioner, stakeholders management of the commission, Mr Sunday Dare, yesterday, said that although the interim board of 9mobile is in charge of the bid process, it would submit reports to Barclays Africa, the financial adviser handling the sale of the telecoms company, NCC and CBN before any authentic announcement is made.

Dare said that the NCC was yet to receive any report indicating conclusion of the bid process and therefore any claim of preferred or reserve bidder could not be relied upon.

He spoke while the Commission presented the findings on the cost based study for the determination of Mobile Voice Termination rates in Nigeria, carried out by PriceWater Coopers, PwC in Lagos.

Dare who represented the Executive Chairman, EVC of the Commission, Prof Umar Danbatta, said that all the stakeholders involved in the 9mobile sale, considered the interest of investors, subscribers, and over 2,000 employees of 9mobile as driving factor to a seamless and transparent process.

He expressed confidence in the board to maintain a transparent handling of the telecom company’s sale process knowing that any shade of opaque handling of the process will create a dangerous ripple effect on the entire telecom sector.

Recall that it was rumoured last week that the interim board of 9mobile may have finally settled for Teleology Holdings Limited as the preferred bidder for 9mobile.

However, since then, several stakeholders have questioned the rationale behind the consideration and why it has not been officially announced.

Direct Investment (FDI). We commend all participants in the process and with the emergence of Teleology, we are sure 9mobile is in safe hands.”

Earlier, while presenting the welcome address of the EVC, Dare recalled that a key component of the commercial aspect of interconnection is the determination of interconnection rates amongst network service providers.

He said: “Apart from the first interconnection rate which was based on negotiation between the then incumbent operator (NITEL) and other operators, all other determinations have been handled by the Commission due largely to two reasons: The negotiated interconnection rate was fraught with many controversies. Secondly, and more importantly, there was a need to ensure interconnection rates are cost-oriented in line with international best practice.

“Till date there has been four interconnect cost determination regimes; 2003, 2006, 2009 and 2013. The 2003 regime was determined via a benchmarking exercise, while the 2006, 2009 and 2013 regimes were cost based and a glide path asymmetry regime was adopted in 2009 and 2013 respectively with the 2013 regime expected to expire in 2016.

“However, economic factors such as the rapid devaluation of the naira in 2016 and the fact that Nigerian network service providers became perpetual net payers to their overseas interconnecting partners, led to the Commission setting an interim rate of N24.40 per minute for inbound international traffic after carrying out a benchmarking exercise with other jurisdictions and this rate will subsist until a cost-oriented rate is determined by the Commission”.

He added that after the expiration of the 2013 interconnect regime in 2016, the Commission re-engaged the services of the Consultant PricewaterhouseCooper (PWC), UK to review and update the existing model taking into account the changes that have occurred over time and produce an interconnection cost model that is more in line with the current realities in Nigeria.

“This project formally kicked off with the initial stakeholders forum held Wednesday 15th February, 2017 with the primary aim of introducing the Consultant to the industry; informing operators of the objectives of the study; and seeking their active participation by way of providing the requisite data and other information for the study. This was immediately followed by one on one meeting with operators and subsequent visits to the offices of some operators for data collection and revalidation during the course of study.

“Having concluded the study, the consultants will be presenting their findings at this very important meeting and consistent with the commission’s principle of ensuring participatory regulation, the floor will be open for an extensive review and discussions of the findings of the study”.

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