Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami)

By Emmanuel Elebeke

The Federal government on Tuesday launched the National Policy on Fifth Generation Networks (5G) for Nigeria’s Digital Economy.

Speaking at the launch presided over by President Mohammadu Buhari, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami) said that the deployment of fifth generation (5G) network, “will play a vital role in improving the security situation in the country”.

The Minister in his presentation to the President, maintained that that “5G network is a viable platform for security institutions to leverage on, in tackling the security challenges that have bedevilled the country, by harnessing the potential of digital technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Robotics etc. which explore real-time information for maximum efficiency.”

He further disclosed that the “5G Network will enhance transparency and economic development as its potential for job creation is unprecedented.” 

The Minister,  who expressed gratitude to the President for the immense support enjoyed by the Digital Economy sector, also disclosed that the National Policy on 5G will achieve numerous goals, including the security of the ecosystem and the protection of data, ensuring that international best practice and globally accepted standards and specifications are entrenched in Nigeria’s ecosystem.

According to him, the formal launch of the 5G Network in Nigeria today is in furtherance of the Federal Government’s commitment to develop a thriving digital economy.

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It will be recalled that the National Policy on 5G Networks was approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on the 8th of September 2021 after a series of trials and multi-stakeholder engagements that eliminated perceived health risks.

In view of this development, the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC on December 13th, 2021 auctioned the 3.5GHz spectrum auction for the Fifth Generation (5G) network licenses in which MTN Nigeria and Mafab Communications emerged winners.

The bids ended at $273 million for each, after nearly eight hours and 11 rounds of auctions which began at $199.37 million as against the reserve price of $197.4 million.

MTN Nigeria, Airtel Nigeria and Mafab Nigeria Communications Ltd participated in the live auction held at Hilton Transcorp Hotel, Abuja.

The surprise bidder for the 3.5GHz spectrum auction was Mafab Nigeria Communications Ltd, an underdog in the telecommunications sector of Nigeria.

The emergence of Mafab Communications as one of the successful bidders came as a surprise to most Nigerians because the company led by Alhaji Musibau Bashiru, was licensed in July 2020, as an International Data Access (IDA) by the NCC, defeating Airtel which has lasted over two decades in the sector as the oldest telecom operator in the country.

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