NIGERIA: Harmonise spectrum for mobile money services, GSMA tells govt
The Global System for Mobile communication Association has asked the Nigerian government to release harmonised spectrum for use by network operators to drive mobile money services.
While highlighting the crucial role of spectrum allocation and licensing to Nigeria’s digital future, GSMA in its latest Mobile Economy West Africa 2019 report said a modernised licensing framework was a fundamental building block for growth.
In particular, the association said the harmonisation of 1427 to 1518 MHz and 3.3 to 3.6 GHz was critical for mobile operators seeking to offer new mobile services to consumers and businesses in the country.
“Making these bands available for assignment to mobile operators will be a core component in reinforcing Nigeria’s position as Africa’s leading mobile market,” GSMA added.
It said, “Connecting everyone and closing the digital divide is a key policy objective for most governments in West Africa. Radio spectrum is the first building block. However, if mobile operators do not have affordable and predictable access to sufficient spectrum, it will not be possible to achieve universal access, particularly in countries with a high proportion of the population residing in rural and remote areas.
“Given the importance of spectrum to mobile broadband, it is essential for governments and regulators to make the right spectrum decisions individually and collectively. This includes ensuring operators have access to sufficient spectrum in a timely and affordable manner; providing support for new network investments; and avoiding costly restrictions on spectrum use.”
In October 2018, the CBN issued a new regulatory framework for the licensing of Payment Service Banks. The framework grants participation rights to mobile operators, through wholly owned subsidiaries, allowing them to offer digital financial services.
Five mobile network operators – MTN, Globacom, Airtel, ntel and 9mobile – have shown interest in rendering mobile money services to drive financial inclusion in the country.
They promised to deepen financial inclusion in 30 months by collectively reaching 90 million Nigerians through the deployment of over one million airtime agents.
MTN and Airtel had announced their plans to apply for Payment Service Bank licence and launch the service in 2019.
The CEO of MTN Group, Rob Shuter, while addressing a conference in Cape Town, said, “We will be applying for a payment service banking licence in Nigeria in the next month or so, and if all goes according to plan, we will also be launching Mobile Money in Nigeria probably around Q2 of 2019.”
Airtel also confirmed its readiness to establish a Payment Service Bank in order to promote financial inclusion in the country.
The telco, in a statement issued in Lagos, said that it would apply for the PSB licence through a subsidiary as directed in the Central Bank of Nigeria’s guidelines, adding that it had a vision of becoming the largest and most secured PSB in Nigeria.