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It is unclear whether Nigeria’s ICT sector and its telecommunications industry is ready to roll out 5G technology and operators are remaining silent regarding this issue.

In July 2019, executive vice chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta has gathered under one roof MTN Nigeria's top executives, including the company's chief executive officer Ferdinand Moolman.

At the meeting Moolman said, “MTN Nigeria had begun technical test runs of its 5G services for future deployment.”

Credit rating agency Fitch Ratings recently predicted that Airtel may limit its participation in 5G auction, due to the “expensive spectrum and limited business case of 5G in the short to medium term”. However, Airtel has chosen not to comment about its 5G plans.

According to the rating agency, Bharti Airtel has raised a total of US$5.7-billion through a rights issue of US$3.5-billion; US$1.45-billion through a private placement of a stake in Airtel Africa; and US$680-million from Airtel Africa's IPO.

“We believe Bharti's management is committed to maintaining an investment-grade rating and intends to deleverage the balance sheet,” it said.

In February 2019, Globacom said it would “execute a conceptual launch of 5G in 700mhz band for Internet of Things application this year” – although the company continues to focus on its 4G LTE penetration and has not issued any details regarding its 5G plans.

The country's fourth largest operator, 9mobile, has also kept quiet.

Despite the lack of clarity, the NCC still has high hopes for Nigeria's readiness for 5G.

In June 2019, Dambatta said, “NCC did not just sit back. We held a stakeholders' forum to come up with a roadmap on 5G.”

Nigeria tech industry expert, Wale Oladipupo said the low level of activities surrounding local 5G is not a surprise considering the existing gaps in 4G. “They cannot be talking about 5G when they are still having headaches with 4G,” he said.


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