Africa’s largest mobile phone operator MTN Group’s fate lies in the hands of the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who will take the necessary decision at the appropriate time in the best interest of the country, according to Africa’s biggest economy’s Minister of Communications Adebayo Shittu. By Staff Writer
“The issue is now before Mr President. He will take the necessary decision at the appropriate time. And the President would do what is best for the public interest,“ Shittu told the Nigerian Vanguard newspaper.
“The good thing is that MTN did not contest the fact that they had violated the regulations and guidelines. They never contested it. They admitted they were at fault. They apologized for their role in the saga and they made a commitment that what happened will never happen again. And of course, they made a plea for review of the payment terms,” he said.
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) issued a R74.8bn fine to MTN last month for failing to disconnect five million unregistered SIM cards in a timely manner.
The NCC then set a deadline of November 16 for MTN to pay the fine but was extended until negotiations were completed.
Last month, MTN Nigeria recorded a marginal decline in its subscriber base to 62,5 million subscribers, due to the disconnection of 5,1 million subscribers at the end of August 2015 in line with industry-wide regulatory registration requirements. To date, 3,4 million of these subscribers have been reconnected.
“I don’t think there is any conflicting position on where government stands on the MTN issue. Recall that there were violations which were established against MTN. The violations were to the tune of five million subscribers. There are many countries where subscribers, in the entire country, are not up to half of the five million. In the case of Nigeria, we had more than five million violations,” Shittu told Vanguard.
“However, both the government and MTN are on the same page that rules have been broken in this instance.”