The Nigerian Communications Commission says resolving the Etisalat debt issue is an incentive to attract the $2 billion Foreign Direct Investment expected from Mubadala of United Arab Emirates.
Prof. Umar Danbatta, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, said this in a statement by Tony Ojobo, the Director, Public Affairs of the commission, in Abuja on Wednesday.
Danbatta was speaking when he received Boye Olusanya, the Chief Executive, and the Vice-President, Regulatory Affairs, Ibrahim Dikko, of 9Mobile in his office in Abuja.
He said: “Resolving the issue was partly to forestall any form of disincentive to the FDI from UAE hanging.”
He said 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.
Danbatta said: “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 that the situation was capable of creating security challenges for the country.
He said that it took the interest of investors, subscribers and employees of Etisalat, now 9Mobile into consideration before intervening in its crisis.
He 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.”
Danbatta said that NCC collaborated with CBN to avert a looming economic disaster.
He said: “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.
Earlier, the Chief Executive of 9Mobile, Olusanya, thanked Danbatta and the NCC management for the cooperation that led to a seamless change.
He 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.
Olusanya said: “National roaming and others in order for 9Mobile to shore up its revenue and meet its financial obligations accordingly.”
Etisalat Nigeria Limited, 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.