Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) authorities slapped MTN Nigeria a subsidiary of the South African telecommunication group MTN with a $5.2 billion fine. Following the Telecom alleged failure to cut off about 5.1 million unregistered SIM cards on its network in Nigeria; contrary to the regulator’s directives to telecoms in the country in line with the SIM car registration legislation.
The fine by NCC on MTN Nigeria has been described by Strand Consult based in Nigeria as the biggest fine of its kind. MTN has since engaged NCC in negotiations to reduce the fine or at the very least allow the Telecom pay the amount in tranches.
Adebayo Shittu, the Nigeria Minister for communications technology, told the Sunday Times that the backstops with Muhammadu Buhari. He will decide the fate on MTN Nigeria in as far as the fine imposed by NCC on the telecom is concerned.
It so happens that Buhari will be soon be traveling to South Africa for the 2nd China- Africa Summit happening in Johannesburg on December 4-5. He will meet with South Africa President Jacob Zuma, who will play host for the China-Africa summit. The two Presidents of Africa’s biggest economies are also expected to delve into the NCC – MTN wrangles, with the Zuma expected to de-escalate the punishment Nigeria has imposed on the South Africa Corporation.
Nigeria adopted a SIM card registration process in a bid to curb terror and criminal activities being conducted over cell phones. By perpetrators who wish not to be tracked via the mobile numbers they use to do illegal activities.
The NCC fine sent a turmoil into the MTN top leadership leading to the group’s former CEO Sifiso Dabengwa quitting office. His exit left room for former MTN Group CEO Phuthuma Nhleko being appointed as the executive chairperson and assigned to negotiating the fine. Nhleko has visited the Nigeria to take part in the NCC – MTN negotiations. It has also emerged that the Johannesburg Stock Exchange is currently investigating MTN in the manner it used to announce the fine to its shareholders.