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NCC hosts 9Mobile exco, opens up on why it intervened with CBN

At last, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has revealed why it was attracted to resolving the Etisalat debt issue, saying it had targeted a hanging $2bn Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) expected from Mubadala of United Arab Emirates, core investors in the telecoms which faded away after all.

Giving the insight while playing host to the Chief Executive of 9Mobile, Mr Boye Olusanya, and the Vice-President, Regulatory Affairs, Mr. Ibrahim Dikko in his office in Abuja on Wednesday, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, in a statement issued by the Director, Public Affairs of the commission, Mr. Tony Ojobo, said its intervention, at least, saved over 2,000 Nigerians whose jobs would have been on the line had the company folded.

Danbatta said that NCC collaborated with CBN to avert a looming economic disaster and noted that “Resolving the issue was partly to forestall any form of disincentive to the FDI from UAE hanging.”

He further stressed that if the company had gone under, this would have created a social problem, especially with the job of over 2,000 Nigerians on the line.

According to him, “About 20 million subscribers would have been affected if we did not intervene in the matter with a view to finding an amicable resolution,” he said.

While noting that the situation was capable of creating security challenges for the country, NCC added that it took the interest of investors, subscribers and employees of Etisalat, now 9Mobile into consideration before intervening in its crisis.

Continuing, Danbatta said “We consider the interest of stakeholders of Etisalat (now 9Mobile) before we resolved to align with the CBN to resolve the issue along with the consortium of 13 banks”.

“We, therefore, want to see a viable and thriving 9Mobile and we want to cooperate with you so that things can move seamlessly and be successful.”

Danbatta assured the 9mobile team of the commission’s cooperation to grow its network.

In his response, Olusanya, thanked the EVC and the NCC management for the cooperation that led to a seamless change and asked for concessions, especially in the area of spectrum assignment, revisit of data floor price, review of interconnect rates to asymmetric platform, concessional foreign exchange access.

He said “National roaming and others in order for 9Mobile to shore up its revenue and meet its financial obligations accordingly”.

Etisalat Nigeria Ltd., now 9Mobile, Nigeria’s fourth largest telecommunication firm, had been facing some financial crisis since Mubadala Development Company of UAE, the company’s largest shareholder pulled out its investment from the country.

Mubadala, an Abu Dhabi government-owned investment and development company, controls about 70 per cent of the shares in Etisalat along with Etisalat UAE mobile.

The Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services, promoted by Hakeem Bello-Osagie, owns the remaining 30 per cent.