MTN NIGERIA says it is in the process of obtaining appropriate licensing to enhance its Mobile Money operations. File photo
MTN NIGERIA says it is in the process of obtaining appropriate licensing to enhance its Mobile Money operations. File photo

MTN Nigeria smoothens its relationship with country’s regulators

By Banele Ginindza Time of article published Aug 5, 2021

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MTN NIGERIA says it has ironed out relations with authorities and regulators in that country to avoid future regulatory hurdles, which saw the group that operates in Africa’s most populous country fined $1.5 billion (R21bn) for failing to disconnect unregistered subscribers.

MTN Nigeria’s chief executive, Karl Toriola, said this week that relations were smooth. He and the parent MTN’s group chief executive had met with the Nigerian president recently and were well received.

“We have built trust with the Governor of the Central Bank and the Minister for Information. Our efforts at stakeholder management have been to shift perception of the company being a foreign entity solely in this country to reap profits,” Toriola said at the presentation of the second-quarter results held earlier this week.

Toriola was articulating how MTN Nigeria was in the process of obtaining appropriate licensing to enhance its Mobile Money operations, which had become an important financial cornerstone for the telecommunications group.

“As a gesture of our congeniality, we are building our headquarters in the country. We don’t have a prompt deadline for obtaining licensing to expand our broadband access. It is in the hands of the Central Bank but we are certain that over the short term we will get the licence,” Toriola said.

He said the mobile communications operator planned to invest 600 billion naira (R21bn) over the next three years to expand broadband access in Africa’s most populous country.

MTN Nigeria had initiated plans to commission a purpose-built, state-of-the-art MTN head office, designed to act as a central hub for its network. It would be “aligned with a wider commitment to environmental sustainability” and would “meet the highest global environmental standards”, Toriola said.

The subsidiary reported a 27.6 percent increase in half-year earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda), despite a sharp decline in subscribers brought about by regulatory restrictions on new SIM sales and activations.

The regulatory SIM restrictions were lifted on April 19, though the addition of subscribers since then has been slower than usual as adjustments were made to address the regulatory stipulations.

“We anticipate growth to normalise in the short term as more of our acquisition centres are certified for SIM registration,” Toriola said.

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