Nigerian mobile users should expect a new telecom operator to enter the market this year, according to the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) who confirmed that the industry should expect a new operator this year.

Little known Mafab Communications, won a 5G license in an auction in December 2021 with a winning offer of $273.6 million. The industry was taken aback when Mafab outbid Airtel Nigeria, which has 60 million subscribers and a 27% market share, in a classic David and Goliath scenario.

Incorporated on July 8, 2020, Dr Musbahu Mohmmed Bashir is the man behind Mafab Communications. He comes from a Hausa-speaking tribe in Kano State, northern Nigeria. Additionally, Dr Bashir holds directorships in a number of other businesses, such as Resource Capital Group, Offshore Technologies International Limited, and Bento Drill Nigeria Limited, which was founded in 1995.

Mafab & MTN were awarded the slots for the 3.5 gigahertz (Ghz) 5G Technology spectrum as winners of the auction.

Mafab's foray into the market has seen multiple attempts. In the initial venture, a launch event was conducted in January 2023 across Abuja and Lagos, where attendees were informed about the imminent deployment of services in the coming months. Curiously, the event lacked a product demonstration.

Fast forward to December 2023, and Mafab adopts a more digital approach. Social media channels are flooded with enticing messages urging potential subscribers to acquire their 5G routers priced at ₦50,000. The company's website, featuring sections like 'Get Mcom 5G' and 'View Coverage Area,' seamlessly leads users to a form where recharge requests are solicited.

Mafab's market entry aligns with the prevailing revenue challenges in the telecom industry, triggered by inflation and currency devaluation. This move is poised to elevate the number of telecom market players to five, with three of them offering 5G services. The primary beneficiaries of this expansion are the consumers, who stand to gain more network choices and potential innovations from operators.

Yet, the ambitious undertaking is not without its hurdles. Acquiring skilled manpower demands substantial resources. Moreover, ensuring a sustainable power generation capacity is imperative for Mafab's operations. Electricity costs, constituting a significant portion of telecommunications expenses in the country, pose an ongoing challenge. While outsourcing tower needs to established operators is on the horizon for Mafab, the burgeoning expenses, mainly fueled by energy costs, remain an undeniable reality.

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