Governors of Nigeria’s 36 states reportedly declared support for the country’s regulator in imposing a full $5.2 billion fine on MTN, in what could be another blow to the operator’s ongoing attempts to reduce the fee.
Earlier this week, MTN won more time to negotiate with authorities after regulator Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) waived Monday’s (16 November) deadline to pay up following a plea for leniency from the operator.
MTN is facing the fine after failing to cut off 5.1 million unregistered SIM cards from its network at a cost of $1000 each, and has been in negotiations with Nigerian authorities to bring the fine down since it was imposed.
Following Monday’s reprieve, Reuters reports the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) held a meeting in Abuja following a briefing by an NCC executive over the matter, and declared they “supported the commission that the fine must be paid in full”.
According to a statement seen by the publication, and signed by NGF chairman Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar, the forum “also commended the NCC for its strict compliance and enforcement of the law with regards to the fine issued by MTN and advised the federal government to ensure prompt and full payment”.
The issue in Nigeria has led to the resignation of CEO Sifiso Dabengwa, with company veteran Phutuma Nhkelo taking the reins in a temporary capacity. He is also leading the ongoing negotiations with NCC, with the regulator stating the fine will not be imposed until talks are concluded.
MTN faces Ugandan fine
MTN has been hit with another fine, this time in Uganda, as the company’s woes across Africa show no sign of letting up.
A Ugandan court said MTN must pay $622,000 to smaller industry rival Ezeemoney for displaying anti competitive behaviour.
Ezeemoney, a mobile money firm, saw its data transmission contract with MTN terminated in 2013, after the operator claimed it was a direct competitor.
“The court found that MTN’s conduct was unlawful and caused loss by unlawful means and awarded Ezeemoney general and punitive damages,” said the company’s lawyer David Mpanga, according to Reuters.
MTN has approximately 11.6 million connections in the country, according to GSMA Intelligence, leading a market containing eight players.
It is reportedly appealing the verdict.