Saturday, 29 February 2020

Nigeria to receive $1.6 bn investment from MTN

by Harry Baldock, Total Telecom
Thursday 30 January 20

The South African telco appears to be patching up its relationship with the Nigerian government

MTN has had a rocky relationship with the Nigerian government for many years.    In 2015, the operator was hit with a $5.2 billion fine for not meeting the deadline set to deactivate a number of SIMs. This fine was later reduced to around $1 billion, but a series of further squabbles have plagued the relationship ever since…

MTN has had a rocky relationship with the Nigerian government for many years. 
 
In 2015, the operator was hit with a $5.2 billion fine for not meeting the deadline set to deactivate a number of SIMs. This fine was later reduced to around $1 billion, but a series of further squabbles have plagued the relationship ever since, most recently an unpaid tax demand of $2 billion from 2018, which was finally withdrawn by the Nigerian attorney-general earlier this month.
 
It seems, however, that these turbulent times could be a thing of the past, at least for now, as MNT has announced a $1.6 billion investment in Nigeria over the next three years.
 
“We are steadfast about our investments in Nigeria, particularly over the next three years as we aim to strengthen and expand our network and systems,” said MTN Chairman Mcebisi Jonas, following a meeting with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and other government officials late on Wednesday.
 
Of the 17 African countries in which MTN operates, Nigeria is easily its biggest market.
 
"The benefits of a connected continent are far reaching, making a positive impact across Africa. We cannot achieve this goal on our own and are working on strengthening relationships with our key partners to extend access to comprehensive and affordable solutions to all," said group CEO Rob Shuter.
 
This announcement comes alongside the launch of MTN’s mobile money services in South Africa as part of a partnership with Ubank. The Memorandum of Understanding was signed in November 2019.
 
This same service was already launched in Nigeria late last year.
 
“We have learnt what to do as well as what not to do, and we believe that MTN has a significant footprint in South Africa to reach underbanked and underserved communities still heavily reliant on cash to transact,” said a statement from MTN.
 
There is also speculation that MTN could be looking to make a play for one of the two telecoms licences soonto be on offer in Ethiopia, but this pledge to invest in Nigeria could put a dampener on these rumours. 
 
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