5G Network, Mafab And The Needless Prejudice Against Northerners - THE DAILY CRUCIBLE



Friday, December 17, 2021

5G Network, Mafab And The Needless Prejudice Against Northerners

The Daily Crucible | Friday, December 17, 2021

By Tope Ajayi

Over the years, I’ve observed with utter consternation the tendency by many commentators from southern Nigeria to relapse into needless histrionics once a northern name is seen as a promoter of an entity doing big things.

There is this instant condescending attitude that permeates through such commentaries – one that always suggests a northerner cannot get anything by merit or that whatever he or she achieves is mostly undeserving.

Sadly, those with this ridiculous, warped mindset and beliefs often cite political patronage, favouritism, nepotism or someone lowering or skewing the standards before a northerner can get anything in Nigeria. For these clearly bigoted commentators, the amount of hard work, sweat, grit, competence and professionalism a northerner deploy to win big business deals mean absolutely nothing.

A lot has been said and written since Mafab Communications Limited, shockingly, emerged as the second winner in a competitive bidding for the 5G spectrum licence held two days ago.

From the outrightly sublime to the ridiculous, Mafab has been labelled in derogatory adjectives. There is no gainsaying the fact that many commentators strutting around the public space in magisterial arrogance lack basic knowledge of what they write or talk about.

How come they are not aware that the company has been providing telecoms support service for more than a year, just that it is business to business and not the usual customer interface like the GSM Telcos, which most Nigerians are accustomed to.

On a deeper level, while bidding for licences, there are eligibility criteria in RFP for both technical and financials. In public procurement or licencing bid/auction of this nature, bidders are allowed to form a consortium and use special purpose vehicle (SPV). What follows is that a successful bidder looks for technical, financial and management partners, all key areas where the company may not have everything in place.

The interesting part is that a company registered within 24 hours can bid for anything as long as the RFP allows it. Most often, such companies are SPVs that brings all parties together as a single entity.

My point is not that Mafab is an SPV. This is just an extrapolation. Clearly, Mafab is not an SPV; it is an existing business concern playing within the telecoms ecosystem doing B2B.

In the telecoms sector, nobody is reinventing any wheel. The equipment vendors are known; the required technology can be openly sourced and those who have them are known, with all obliged to sell to willing buyers.

Anyone can get this license with a company registered under 24 hours once the promoter (s) can pull the moving parts together. The most important, however, is the financial muscle. Once you have the funding, you can hire the best management, acquire the best technology and the best equipment available from vendors.

The eligibility criteria for this auction allows for startups as long as the technical and financials are in place. And upon winning the license, NCC also sets a rollout plan of 10 years and the milestone a licencee must attain every year. Mafab and MTN have one to two years to roll out their 5G.

Let’s refresh our memories a bit. Otunba Mike Adenuga was not involved in the telecoms business when he got the Glo licence and revolutionised the sector through the company’s per second billing.

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