Indications have emerged that MTN may exit the Nigerian market over what it terms incessant imposition of fines and penalties by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and endless harassment by the National Assembly through Senate probes.
A senior executive of MTN Nigeria told Business Journal during a chance meeting in Lagos recently.
Business Journal quoted the official as saying that “Nigeria of today is a very hostile operating environment for MTN. Can you imagine that the NCC imposed a $5.2 billion/N1.04 trillion fine on MTN over unregistered SIM cards, tarnishing the brand reputation of the company across the world? It seems very clear that the NCC EVC, Danbatta came into office with a negative mindset to kill MTN. And before we could recover from that dark episode, the Senate began harassing the company over alleged illegal transfer of $13.2 billion. I can tell you that one or two directors of MTN are already discussing the possibility of MTN leaving Nigeria if the endless hostility of NCC and Senate continues unabated this year.”
The NCC imposed a fine of $5.2 billion on MTN in 2015 over sale of unregistered SIM cards. The fine was later reduced to N330 billion over a period of three years.
In the same vein, the Senate also commenced investigation against MTN Nigeria over alleged illegal transfer of $13.2 billion from Nigeria to its headquarters in South Africa through Diamond Bank, Citigroup, Stanbic IBTC and Standard Chartered Bank.
MTN Nigeria is the largest telecom operator in Nigeria with 39.91 percent of the market as at November 30, 2016. This translates to 61.2 million subscribers, according to latest figures from the NCC.
However, the company’s Internet Data subscription showed a decline from 32, 386,071 in April 2016 to 32, 071,779 in November last year.