SIM Registration: MTN Pays N110bn In Fine

MTN Nigeria has paid a total of N110bn into the pocket of the government out of the imposed N330b imposed by the Nigerian Communication Commission

Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, made this known on Thursday at a workshop on Code of Corporate Governance setup by the commission in Kano.

He also disclosed that the commission was rearranging its regulatory activities to make sure that telecommunications’consumers get value for their money.

NCC had in October 2015 imposed a fine of N1.04tn on MTN for irregular registration of subscribers. However, after prolonged negotiation with both the regulatory agency and the Federal Government, the company had the fine reduced to N330bn.

Danbatta said the matter had been resolved with an agreement for settlement over a three-year period signed between the agency and MTN.

He said the payment was spread over a three-year period because the intention was not to snuff life out of MTN.

The NCC boss said, “Current evaluation report of the state of the industry suggests that whilst not understating the impact of other external and fiscal issues confronting the sector, that most challenges negatively affecting the health of operators in the sector today are attributable to poor governance issues.

“It is currently rejigging its regulatory oversights in the areas of ensuring that consumers get cost effective value for money spent on telecommunication services; and that service delivery by providers are qualitative and efficient.

MTN To Raise $500m From Stock Market

The Nigeria’s biggest mobile-phone company, MTN, plans to raise $500 million from the sale of shares during the first half of the year.

The initiative is to enable the company fulfill the terms of a deal struck with Nigeria to settle a record fine imposed on it in 2016 over SIM registration default.

Standard Bank Group Ltd. and Citigroup Inc. have been advising Africa’s largest company on the disposal of as much as 30 per cent of unit on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

The details of the transaction have not been made public.

According to Bloomberg, most of the shares will be sold to local institutions and individuals, though foreign investors could be brought in to ensure the process is a success, one of the people said.

MTN agreed to list the Nigerian unit as part of a June 2016 agreement to pay a $1 billion fine for missing a deadline to disconnect unregistered subscribers amid a security crackdown.

The penalty, originally set at $5.2 billion, led to the resignation of the Johannesburg-based company’s then chief executive officer, a first ever full-year loss and a slump in the share price that’s yet to be clawed back.

The stock extended gains on Wednesday, and traded 4.5 percent higher at 128.83 rand as of the close in Johannesburg, giving a market value of 243 billion rand ($20 billion).

If successful, the Lagos share sale will be the biggest on the Nigerian Stock Exchange after Starcomms Plc, which raised $796 million when it listed in 2008, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

MTN with over 50 million subscribers as of end September, slumped to a loss in 2016 as it absorbed the financial impact of the fine, though said last month it returned to profit the following year.

Nigeria and other sub-Saharan African governments are trying to gain more from international mobile-phone operators taking advantage of rising smartphone use and faster data speeds.

MTN Returns To Profit

One of the Africa’s leading mobile-network providers, MTN Group Limited, has stated in a report that it returned to profit in 2017, recovering from a $1bn fine it paid for its Nigerian business.

The company on Monday said in a statement that  it was expected to report a profit for the 12 months ended December 31, 2017.

According to the report, the result compares with a headline loss of 0.77 rand a share and a loss of 1.44 rand a share a year earlier.

The company promised to give more information once it had obtained more certainty on the profit range.

MTN is working its way through a tumultuous period triggered by the Nigerian penalty in October 2015, which led to the resignation of its chief executive officer and months of negotiations before it was eventually settled.

A fine of N1.3tn was imposed on the network provider by the Nigerian Communications Commission after it missed a deadline to disconnect 5.1 million unregistered lines amid a security threat in the country.

After several negotiations, the fine was reduced to N780bn in December 2015, and it was further reduced in June last year to N330bn, with its payment spread over three years.

As of March 2017, the company had already paid a total of N110bn of the N330bn fine.

The remaining payments to be made in tranches are N55bn by March 31, 2018; N55bn by December 31, 2018; another N55bn by March 31, 2019 and a balance of N55bn latest May 31, 2019.

Nigeria Records 140m Phone Subscriptions In Third Quarter

Nigeria recorded a total of 140 million active voice subscriptions and 93.26 million active Internet subscriptions in the third quarter of 2017.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said this in a report on “Telecoms Data: Active Voice and Internet per State, Porting and Tariff Information for the Third Quarter of 2017’’ posted on its website.

The bureau said that total active voice subscriptions fell by 8.73 per cent from third quarter 2016, and by 2.21 per cent from second quarter of 2017.

It, however, stated that total active internet subscriptions increased by 1.22 per cent from third quarter 2016 and declined by 0.55 per cent from second quarter, 2017.

According to the report, both voice and internet communication subscriptions in third quarter, 2017 were dominated by GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications).

Meanwhile, the report stated that the four largest voice communication providers in the third quarter were Airtel Nigeria, 9mobile, Globacom Limited and MTN Nigeria Communications.

According to the report, the providers’ contributions are 24.75 per cent, 12.30 per cent, 27.70 per cent and 35.96 per cent of the total telecom communication subscriptions respectively.

It said that the top four specialised in GSM, while Globacom Limited also hold 0.01 per cent of the total active voice subscriptions in the form of Fixed/Fixed Wireless Telecommunication.

By the end of the third quarter, the report indicated that Southwestern and North central states recorded higher than average number of voice and internet subscriptions than other states in the country.

By the end of the third quarter, the report stated that Southern and Southwestern states recorded the highest active voice subscriptions.

It said that Lagos, Ogun and Oyo, the top three states recorded altogether 26.10 per cent of the total voice subscription of the country.

The report said that Lagos led in telecommunication usage with 20.39 million active voice subscriptions and 20.12 million GSM users by the end of the third quarter, equaling to 14.58 per cent of the total nationwide subscriptions.

It stated that FCT, Kano and Kaduna established another cluster of heavy voice subscription, each of which reported more than six million active voice subscriptions in the quarter under review.

In addition, the report said that most states recorded negative growths in active voice subscriptions in the third quarter on both year-to-year and quarter to quarter basis.

It stated that FCT, Edo, Adamawa, Ondo, Lagos and Oyo were the only states which recorded positive year-on-year growths in active voice subscriptions in the quarter under review.


How MTN Employees, Bankers ‘Fleeced’ Customers Of N150m

Operatives of the Police’ Special Fraud Unit (PSFU) Ikoyi, Lagos State, have arrested two employees of telecommunications firm, MTN, three bankers and six others for allegedly defrauding subscribers of over N150 million.

Chukwunonso Ifeanyi, 30, and Okpetu John, 29, who both confirmed they were MTN employees, were paraded alongside the bankers, Oyelade Shola, 32; Osuolale Hammid, 40; and Akeem Adesina, 33 by the spokesman for the SFU, ASP Lawal Audu.

Others include an ICT specialist, Salako Abdulsalam, 30; a pastor, James Idagu, 56; Sarumi Abubakar; Ismaeel Salami, 49; Akinola Oghuan, 34; and Sunday Okeke, 33.

The suspects were arrested in Lagos, Oyo and Kwara states with several Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cards belonging to unsuspecting Nigerians, whose accounts were used to divert money belonging to those they defrauded, recovered from them.

According to the police, the suspects belonged to a syndicate that specialized in defrauding bank customers, who do not do Internet banking.

It was gathered that while the bankers supplied the details of customers with funded accounts to the gang, the MTN workers ensured that the victims’ mobile numbers, as well as those of people they had their ATMs were swapped for the duration of the crime.

According to Audu, blocking the numbers enabled the syndicate to fleece their victims, diverting the money into accounts they had ATM cards/pin, thereby preventing computer-generated text messages of transaction from being delivered to account owners.

He said: “The suspects transferred the money siphoned into about 40 other accounts with ATM in different banks. They usually carry out their operations at weekends and public holidays to avoid being detected by the bank monitoring mechanisms or the owners of targeted funded accounts.

“The effort of the police team eventually paid off when the same group was holding their final meeting at Domino Pizza eatery along Bode Thomas Street, Surulere, on the plan to unleash another monumental fraud on unsuspecting customers.

“Their plan was to defraud some bank customers between May 26 and 29. Detectives stormed the venue during which one of the major kingpin, Alhaji Ismaeel Salami, and four members of the syndicate were arrested.”

Ifeanyi, who said he suspected engineers at MTN headquarters as those behind the fraud, disclosed it was the fourth time it has happened in his branch.

He said: “I have no hand in that fraud. Someone used my access to do it and it was the fourth time it happened within a month. The first time, they used my Manager’s access, within two weeks, it was the Assistant Manager’s. The next person was a colleague before mine was used.

“All the times it happened, we were told to change our passwords, which we did. I suspect the engineers at the headquarters because they are the ones who usually gave us access to the systems.”

However, MTN PR Manager, Funso Aina, told The Guardian when contacted that those paraded at the SFU were not MTN workers. “Rather, they are employees of a distribution partner who runs a Connect Store.”

Source: Guardian

MTN in Fresh Trouble, Fined $8.5m

Rwanda’s telecom industry regulator has fined MTN Rwanda, a division of South Africa’s MTN Group, 7 billion francs (8.5 million dollars) for running its IT services outside the country in breach of its licence.

The regulator said in a ruling posted on its website in Kigali that MTN Rwanda was hosting its IT services hub in Uganda, which it had prohibited.

“They are punished for relocating their IT services outside Rwanda, and this was deliberate,’’ Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority Spokesman Anthony Kulamba said.

MTN Group said it had also received a notification about the fine.

“MTN has been engaging with the regulator on this matter over the past four months.

“MTN Rwanda is currently studying the official notification and will continue to engage with the regulator on this matter,” it said in a statement.

In 2016, the company, which operates in 20 countries, set aside 600 million dollars to pay a fine imposed by the Nigerian government through the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for not disconnecting unregistered SIM cards.

It paid N30 billion (95.24 million dollars) of the amount in March.

Other telecoms companies operating in Rwanda are Tigo, a unit of Millicom and Airtel Rwanda, a unit of India’s Bharti Airtel.


MTN Pays N30bn As Part Settlement Of Fine

MTN has started an effort to swim out of their troubled waters with the federal government. The telecoms company  made a payment of N30 billion to the federal government as a part settlement of the N330 billion fine imposed on the telecoms group for not disconnecting unregistered SIM cards, an MTN source told Reuters Thursday.

Africa’s largest telecoms company has already paid N80 billion of the total amount owed, the source said.

The fine is due for payment in six installments over three years, MTN has explained.

MTN Nigeria was originally fined $5.2 billion last October for failing to deactivate more than five million unregistered SIM cards, but the fine was reduced in a settlement that paved the way for MTN to list its subsidiary on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

Nigeria has been cracking down on unregistered SIM cards, concerned that they are used for criminal activities in a country fighting an insurgency by Islamist militant group Boko Haram.

MTN Loses 714,000 Internet Subscribers

Nigeria’s telecommunications networks lost 1,275,573 internet users in February, with MTN losing 714,700 subscribers, the highest.

The NCC made the disclosure in its internet subscribers’ data for February.

The publication indicated that internet users on both Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) and Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) networks dropped from 91,304,755 in January to 90,029,182 in February.

It also showed that, of the 90,029,182 internet users in February, 89,998,873 were on GSM networks, while 30,309 were on CDMA networks.

It showed that the GSM service providers lost 1,275,573 internet customers as they recorded 89,998,873 users in February as against 91,274,446 they recorded in January.

The CDMA operators retained 30,309 internet subscribers in February as recorded in January.

The data revealed that MTN had 30,300,705 subscribers browsing the internet on its network in the month under review. MTN recorded a drop of 714,700 internet subscribers in February after recording 31,015,405 in January.

According to the data, Globacom had 26,932,485 customers surfing the net on its network in February, revealing a decline of 143,787 users from the 27,076,272 who surfed the internet on the network in January.

Airtel had 19,468,684 internet users in February, reducing by 149,801, the number of customers in its January record of 19,618,485.

The data also showed that Etisalat had 13,296,999 customers who browsed the internet in February. It recorded a decrease of 267,285 users from the 13,564,284 users it recorded in January.

The NCC data revealed that the CDMA operators, Multi-Links and Visafone, had a joint total of 30,309 internet users on their networks in February, maintaining their January record.

According to the data, Visafone had 30,305 customers surfing the internet in February, while Multi-Links had four.

Credit: Watch Dog

Nigeria Remains ‘Critical’ Market in Africa Despite Recession- Investors

Investors have expressed confidence in the resurgence of Nigeria’s struggling economy, describing it as ‘very critical’ to building African companies that could join the league of top 500 in the next eight years.

A panel of discussants, including chief executives of MTN, Honeywell, KPMG, CFAO and the Casablanca Finance City Authority, at the Africa CEO Forum in Geneva, Switzerland, yesterday said despite the volatility in Nigeria’s economy, it is still an important market.

“The fact that it is passing through volatility is not enough to reconsider investment of $16 billion invested in the last 10 to 12 years,” said Mr. Phuthuma Nhleko, MTN’s non-executive chairman.

Also, Chairman of Honeywell Group, Oba Otudeko, agreed with Phuthuma, stressing, however, that Africa “has the responsibility for its survival.”Otudeko, who chairs the Honeywell Group, stated that First Bank, Ecobank and United Bank for Africa (UBA) have begun to show what African companies could become in terms of size but insisted that good business environment would speed up the process of growth.

He stated that economic recession and plunge in global oil prices meant that revenues of Nigerian companies were taking great shocks. But he insisted that “volatility is also part of the character of economies throughout the world, not just Nigeria.”

Besides, the investors agreed that African governments needed to create the necessary business environment for companies to grow optimally and join the league of top 500 companies.

Richard Bille of the CFAO noted that though his company’s $6 billion investments in Africa would be a tough beginning on the road to achieving the feat, the domestic markets in Nigeria, Algeria, South Africa and Egypt would be sufficient for African companies to begin to aspire if only governments could encourage stock exchanges to grow bigger.

“We need stock markets with liquidity,” he said.Brian Leith of the KPMG noted that companies on the top 500 should have an average of $21 billion in turnover and expressed the concern that South Africa’s insurance giant, Allianz, though among the top 500, was not listed as African because of diluted shareholding.

“Nigeria remains the biggest domestic market; so, the biggest companies are in the best position to become pan-African power houses,” Dr. Andrew S. Nevin, chief economist of the PWC, told The Guardian at the conference.He said the Federal Government “should be encouraging these companies to expand and also encouraging state governments to embrace these firms.”

The Guardian

MTN Nigeria Set To Deploy 4G LTE Network In July

MTN Nigeria is gearing for a 4G LTE network rollout in selected cities by July 2016, following the acquisition of LTE-suitable frequencies in the 800MHz band earlier this year via the takeover of CDMA network operator Visafone Communications.

MTN Nigeria’s CEO Ferdinand Moolman disclosed that MTN has started the process of migrating all of Visafone subscribers onto its network so that it could vacate the 800MHz frequency band and start rolling out LTE.

The executive was cited as saying: “It delayed our capital expenditure rollout during the first quarter a little bit because we needed to realign some of our CAPEX towards the LTE rollout. We started the migration of the subscribers and we hope to conclude that soon. The plans are to have commercial LTE available towards the end of the second quarter, maybe early Q3 2016, albeit very limited, and then start expanding this towards the first quarter of next year.”

MTN is aiming to have roughly 1,500 LTE collocated sites backhauled with fibre-optics by year-end. Meanwhile, MTN Group’s Chief Operating Officer Jyoti Desai said that the company undertook a detailed analysis of MTN Nigeria’s data usage in order to determine the most suitable locations for 4G rollouts: “We looked at the handset ecosystem and revenue opportunity and have identified some of the major cities.”

In January 2016, MTN finalised the acquisition of Lagos-based Visafone, reportedly paying N47.5 billion ($238.7 million) to obtain its assets (including spectrum in the 800MHz band and roughly 2.1 million subscribers) in order to strengthen its position in the Nigerian wireless broadband market.

AGF Queries Senate Committee’s Stance On Probe Of MTN Fine

The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), has said that the N50 billion collected from MTN Nigeria is merely a part payment to the government.

In a letter in which he questioned the integrity of the Senate Committee on Communications in getting to the root of the controversy surrounding the N780 billion reduced fine slammed on MTN by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Malami took exception to some of the accusations allegedly levelled against him by the panel.

The committee, some weeks ago, had lamented the role the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Office of the Attorney-general played and had observed that they were less than transparent in their roles in the negotiations and payment made by MTN.

But the minister yesterday said that the former US Attorney General and counsel to the MTN, Eric Holder, wouldn’t have entered into the meeting with him if he was not sure he was the most appropriate person with whom to negotiate.

According to Malami, the government insisted that MTN, which Holder represented, must show some commitment by ensuring part payment of N50 billion. The insistence was that no audience could be granted to the company or anyone acting on its behalf while the case is still pending in court and in the absence of demonstration of good faith by MTN.

The letter titled ‘The N50bn Payment By MTN Telecommunications Limited To The Federal Government – A Misrepresentation of the Facts of the Matter’ and signed by his Special Adviser, Salihu Othman Isah, reads:

“To this request, MTN offered to comply, and indeed complied by withdrawing the case unconditionally and to make an agreed payment of N50 billion ($250 million), an offer the government accepted only to grant audience to it and its counsel in relation to the settlement discussions (and without prejudice and in good faith).

“The payment was made on February 24th, into a Federal Government Recoveries Account with the Central Bank of Nigeria. The company also filed an application to withdraw its pending suit in an attempt to fulfil the second condition for audience with the government on the matter. This was also confirmed by the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice before it agreed to grant audience to MTN or its counsel.

“And having fulfilled the two conditions as demanded by the Federal Government through the OHAGF/MOJ (Office of the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice), the MTN through its counsel Holder and his Covington legal team thereby sought audience with HAGF/MOJ who yet denied going into any negotiations, but demanded a proposal of the terms meant to be discussed in writing.

“Holder obliged those terms and the HAGF/MOJ who quickly despatched a mail through the normal official channel to the Minister of Communications and the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) inviting them for their input before fixing any meeting. And while still awaiting the responses of both, no meeting or discussion or negotiation has been held on the issue ever since.”