The operator plans to significantly increase broadband access for the West African nation over the next three years

A three-day visit to Abuja and Lagos from MTN Group’s president and chief executive officer, Ralph Mupita, have shed light on the Group’s broadband investment approach in Nigeria. In discussions with stakeholders, Mupita said that MTN Nigeria would be investing around $1.5 billion over the next three years to increase broadband access throughout the country.

Exactly how this fund will be spent over this period is unclear, but Mupita noted that investment would further the Group’s ‘Ambition 2025’ strategy, which focuses primarily upon “building largest and most valuable platform business with a clear focus on Africa”.

The investment also aligns with the Nigerian government’s 2020-2025 National Broadband Plan, which aims to achieve 90% broadband population coverage by 2025.

“Nigeria is one of our most important markets. We have a proud history of partnering with Nigeria and Nigerians to drive faster and more inclusive growth through digital transformation,” Mupita told stakeholders, also noting the Group’s support for the government’s plans to make 5G spectrum available as soon as possible.

Yesterday, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) announced that they had inaugurated a committee to develop the Information Memorandum for the auction of 3.5 GHz spectrum band, one of the first steps towards deploying 5G in Nigeria. Currently, the plan is to auction a total of 500 MHz in this band, doing so in five blocks of 100 MHz.

“We put in extra efforts and secured additional 160MHz in the 3.5GHz band by making huge commitment of resources to secure additional Spectrum from Nigerian Communication Satellite Limited (NigComSat),” explained Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, executive vice chairman and chief executive officer of the NCC.

“Having put in these efforts and resources to secure, amongst others, contiguous spectrum in a premium band like the 3.5GHz band that is being adopted as the best spectrum for early deployment of 5G with about 70% of 5G global deployment so far, it has become imperative to immediately re-purpose the 3.5GHz band in Nigeria for auction in accordance with best practices.”

Despite this progress, the exactly plan and timeline for the auction remains unknown. 

While 5G is set to have a major impact in Nigeria and will likely accelerate in adoption faster than previous generations of mobile technology, it should be remembered that this will still be a very gradual process. Last week, Ericsson’s June 2021 Mobility Report noted that 3G will remain the dominant tech on the African continent all the way to 2026, accounting for around 40% of mobile subscriptions. 4G, meanwhile, will account for around 28%, and 5G just 7%. 


How will 5G impact the African market? Find out from the experts at this year’s Total Telecom Congress

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