Obtaining a Telecommunications Licence in Nigeria: Substantive and Procedural Requirements (Part 2) – Sandra Eke

Telecommunications

22nd December 2020.

 Sandra Eke[1]    

 

Obtaining a Telecommunications Licence in Nigeria: Substantive and Procedural Requirements (Part 2)

 

Obtaining a telecommunications licence is essential for entities that desire to provide communication services within the local market. It is a regulatory compliance requirement expected of prospective telecommunications service providers to avoid facing severe sanctions from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).[2] Prior to applying for a licence, it is important to note that there are two major classifications of licences: Individual and Class Licences,[3] and the procedure for procuring them vary. The modalities involved in procuring an individual licence is more complex in comparison to the procedure for obtaining a class licence. For an application for a licence to be valid in Nigeria, the prospective licensee is required to be registered as a corporate body in Nigeria, comply with the technical requirements of NCC for operating the appropriate licence, establish that it possesses sufficient financial capacity to render communication services on a long-term basis to the NCC’s satisfaction, among others.[4] This piece will provide you with a guide to how telecommunications licences are obtained in Nigeria.

CLASS LICENCE

Registration with the NCC is the only mode and requirement for procuring a Class Licence in Nigeria.  An applicant is expected to lodge a registration notice with the NCC in the required application form, accompanied with the evidence of payment of the requisite application fees and other relevant documents.[5] The NCC is empowered to de-register any entity that fails to pay the fees required of it under the licence; fails to comply with the terms and conditions in the licence; contravenes any written law relevant to the communications industry; fails to comply with directives of the NCC or if the de-registration is in the interest of the public.[6]

Application Requirements

An application for a Class Licence should be made to the NCC containing the following details:[7]

  • Contact Information
  • Corporate Profile
  • Ownership Structure
  • Profile of Technical Staff (applicable to Applicants for Sales/Installations only)

The application should be accompanied by the following documents:

  • Duly completed application form
  • Certificate of Incorporation or Registered Business Name
  • Tax Clearance Certificate
  • Certified true copy of Articles & Memorandum of Association
  • Certified true copy of form CAC 1.1
  • 2 Passport photographs of authorized representative.
  • Certificate of qualified technical staff
  • Summary of the proposed service
  • Passport photographs of Directors of the Company/Sole Proprietorship

Upon submission of the application form and other supporting documents, a Licence fee is required to be paid. On receipt of the application, the NCC in accordance with Reg. 26(2) of the Licensing Regulation, is required to inform the applicant in writing within 30 days of its decision to grant or refuse the application.

INDIVIDUAL LICENSE

There are different modes of obtaining an individual licence in Nigeria:[8]

  1. Auction
  2. Tender
  3. Fixed price
  4. Competitive bid process or
  5. Any other method which the Commission may consider as appropriate.

The NCC grants an individual licence using any of the above listed methods. Where the NCC adopts the Auction or Tender process, it is required to stipulate the terms and requirements of the Auction in the Auction Information Memorandum or Invitation to Tender, respectively.[9] If the NCC utilizes the Fixed Price process, it is required to determine the price and stipulate the terms and requirements.[10] Where the NCC adopts the Competitive Bidding process, it is required to issue a public invitation for bids.[11]

The NCC may refuse to grant an Individual Licence to an entity if it is found to be operating under an existing Class Licence.[12]

Application Requirements

An application for an individual licence should be made to the NCC and it should contain the following details:[13]

  • Company information
  • Corporate Profile
  • Ownership Structure
  • Full particulars of the company’s experience and expertise
  • Project Feasibility Report

The application should be accompanied by the following documents:[14]

  • Certificate of Incorporation
  • Tax Clearance Certificate
  • Certified true copy of Articles & Memorandum of Association
  • Certified true copy of form CAC 1.1
  • Feasibility report of proposed service applied for (where applicable)
  • 3 Passport photographs of authorized representative
  • Passport photographs of Directors of the company
  • Memorandum of Understanding with Operator(s) (for VAS Content applicants only)

Upon submission of the application form and other supporting documents, a non-refundable administrative fee, which is 5% of the relevant license fee, is required to be paid. At this point the licence fee is not yet required, it is only required upon approval of the licence application.

It should be noted that, the NCC is authorized to request for further information in support of an application for a licence from an applicant and it could reject an application if the information is not provided within the specified period.[15]

Upon receipt of a valid application, the NCC in accordance with section 41 of the NCA is required to inform the applicant in writing within 90 days, provided the application is not the subject of a competitive bid process, whether the application was granted or refused. In the event an application is granted, the NCC is required to issue an offer letter to the applicant and notify the applicant of any terms and conditions applicable to the licence and in a circumstance where an application is refused, the reasons for refusal should be communicated to the applicant.[16] The licensee is required to pay the requisite licence fee within 30 days of receipt of the Offer Letter.[17]

It is important to note that by virtue of section 18 of the Licensing Regulation, the NCC is prohibited from issuing Individual Licences to the following applicants:

a. An Applicant who has a controlling interest in another licensee, where the Commission is satisfied that anti-competitive issues may likely arise in the event that such licence is granted; or

b. An Applicant who failed to meet its obligations under the conditions of another licence granted to it by the Commission.

 

This article is intended to convey general information and not intended to give legal advice. Questions about any legal matter should be referred to a lawyer for professional guidance and advice.

 

For further information on this article and area of law, please contact

Sandra Eke at: S. P. A. Ajibade & Co., Lagos by telephone

(+234 1 472 9890), fax (+234 1 4605092)

Mobile: +234.7033857874 or +234.8112491266

Email: seke@spaajibade.com

www.spaajibade.com

[1]          Sandra Eke, Associate, IP and Technology Department, SPA Ajibade & Co., Lagos, NIGERIA.

[2]       In accordance with Reg.13 of the Licensing Regulation 2019 “any person who provides a telecommunications service without a valid licence shall be liable to an administrative fine of N5,000,000 for the contravention and N500,000 for each day that the contravention persists after an order to desist has been issued by the Commission.”

[3]       See S. 32(1) NCA Cap. N.97, LFN 2004.

[4]       Reg. 10 Licensing Regulation.

[5]       Section 50 NCA.

[6]       Section 51 NCA.

[7]       See NCC, “Application for Class Licence” available at: https://www.ncc.gov.ng/docman-main/licensing-application-forms/712-class-license-application-form-1/file accessed 16th December 2020.

[8]       Reg.15(1) Licensing Regulation.

[9]       Reg.15(2) Licensing Regulation. See an example of an Auction Information Memorandum at NCC, “2.6 GHz Spectrum Auction Information Memorandumhttps://www.ncc.gov.ng/accessible/documents/555-information-memorandum-2-6ghz-frequency-spectrum-auction/file accessed 18th December 2020.

[10]     Ibid 9.

[11]     Ibid 9.

[12]     Section 39(3) NCA.

[13]     See NCC, “Application for Individual Licence” available at: https://www.ncc.gov.ng/docman-main/licensing-application-forms/881-individual-license-application-form-4/file accessed 16th December 2020.

[14]     Ibid 12.

[15]     Section 40(1) NCA.

[16]     See Reg.17(1) of Licensing Regulation and section 41 of NCA.

[17]     Reg. 17(3) Licensing Regulation.

 

Get PDF version here