MTN Group opened talks with Benin’s telecoms regulator regarding an unpaid XOF134 billion ($213 million) bill for frequency fees levied in 2016 and 2017 which the operator deemed “excessive”.
The South Africa-headquartered operator’s talks with regulator Arcep are “ongoing” as the parties try to reach a compromise, MTN Group representative Karen Byamugisha told AFP.
Reports of the talks come shortly after Benin’s interior ministry asked the head of MTN Benin, Stephen Blewett, to leave the country by 24 November, accusing him of having conducted “activities detrimental to security and public order”.
MTN Group defended Blewett in a statement, claiming he “discharged his duties as directed by MTN Group with the utmost integrity” and in accordance with the laws of the land.
The move against MTN’s Benin CEO highlights a strained relationship between the company and the government. Earlier this year it was fined XOF492 million for “persistent failure to meet its obligations on standards of service”.
GSMA Intelligence places MTN as the top operator in Benin with a 45 per cent market share at end-Q3.