The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) will sanction operators if they don’t pass financial and technical checks, in order to prevent a repeat of a situation involving Etisalat Nigeria, which was unable to pay $1.2 billion of debt.
Sanctions are being considered as the regulator seeks to ensure operators’ financial books are up to date, their networks meet required benchmarks, and they are fit to apply for loans for network expansion, ThisDay reported.
Director of stakeholder management at the regulator, Sunday Dare, said the Etisalat Nigeria incident was a huge embarassment for the country.
The operator could not pay back loans it had taken for network upgrade and expansion and eventually rebranded as 9mobile after parent Etisalat terminated a management agreement with its Nigerian unit and handed its 45 per cent stake in Etisalat Nigeria to a trustee.
In a statement issued in July the NCC said if 9mobile had gone under it would have “created a social problem especially with the job of over 2,000 Nigerians on the line”. The commission added the loss of the operator could even create security challenges for the country.
NCC CEO Umar Garba Danbatta said at the time the regulator wants to “avert a looming economic disaster and see a viable and thriving 9mobile.”