Unveiling Mafab: Nigeria’s telecom industry could get new entrant this year

Unveiling Mafab: Nigeria’s telecom industry could get new entrant this year

In an exciting new revelation, Nigeria’s telecom arena could be gearing to receive a newcomer. Telecom newbie, Mafab Communications, who turned heads after securing a game-changing 5G license in December 2021, has unveiled its launch plans with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC)

What makes Mafab’s revelation even more intriguing is the company’s audacious decision to construct its infrastructure from the ground up rather than acquire or lease from existing players; setting the stage for a significant market entry.

Despite operating under the radar, Mafab made waves during the license auction, outbidding heavyweights like Airtel Nigeria with a whopping $273.6 million bid. The company’s strategic move to build its infrastructure rather than relying on established players signals a bold entry into the telecom landscape. However, regulatory hurdles loom large, particularly regarding the Universal Access Service License (UASL), a crucial component for navigating the 5G spectrum.

At present, the spotlight is on Mafab’s pursuit of the elusive UASL license. A pivotal requirement since 2005, the UASL spans fixed telephony, digital mobile (GSM) services, international and national long-distance services, and more.

While Mafab secured its UASL license in July 2022, the real challenge lies in securing the substantial funding necessary to build the essential infrastructure. I express my skepticism about local funding availability, even with potential interest from banks.

Mafab’s journey to market entry has been a series of strategic moves, from a high-profile launch event in January 2023 to promoting 5G routers by December of the same year. However, the road ahead is not without challenges, including the need for considerable resources to hire skilled personnel and ensure a consistent power supply.

In the midst of these challenges, Gbenga Adebayo, President of the Association of Licensed Telecommunication Organizations of Nigeria (ALTON), echoes the market’s anticipation for Mafab’s debut. The prospect of heightened competition promises improved service quality, ultimately benefiting consumers. Adding intrigue to the narrative are reports of Mafab’s backers, described as wealthy local investors with significant political influence.

Mafab’s entry comes as the telecom industry grapples with revenue pressures stemming from inflation and currency devaluation, Its entry though could portend significant changes for  Nigeria’s telecom industry. Consumers stand to gain with more choices and potential innovations, potentially marking a significant chapter in the nation’s telecom evolution.

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