South African parliament to summon MTN over Nigerian fine

mtnTHERE are plans by South African lawmakers to summon MTN Group for proper explanation as regards the circumstances surrounding the N1.04 trillion ($5.2 billion) fine slammed on its Nigerian arm by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

The move is coming even as the telecommunications company, yesterday, refuted media reports that it had agreed a resolution with the NCC on the fine.

The fine is “a worrying issue,” Chairwoman of Parliament’s Telecommunications Committee, Nkhensani Kubayi, told Bloomberg by phone.

However, Bloomberg has it that MTN spokesman, Chris Maroleng, was yet to comment on the plans by the lawmakers to question the telecommunications company.

Besides, the lawmakers, it was gathered also intends questioning the South African industry regulator to determine whether MTN Nigeria is compliant with local rules, with hearings likely to take place next year, Kubayi said.

Nigeria’s telecommunications regulator has given MTN until November 16 to pay the fine, which relates to the timing of the disconnection of 5.1 million subscribers and is based on a charge of N200,000 ($1,005) for each unregistered customer.

Nigeria is Johannesburg-based MTN’s biggest market with over 62 million clients as of September. It currently controls 43 per cent market share.

While the NCC has harmonized MTN’s licences— Digital Mobile License and Unified Access Service License for another five years, which is till 2021, information has it that talks are on as regard the fine continue on a possible soft landing for the embattled telecommunications firm.

Meanwhile, owing to the news of licence renewal announced by MTN on Tuesday, the firm’s shares rose 2.4 per cent to 159.20 rand as of 10:51 a.m. on Johannesburg on Wednesday, trimming the stocks losses since the penalty was reported to 16.2 per cent.

In the same vein, the mobile operator said the reports that it had agreed to pay the N1.04 trillion are false, saying it continues to engage authorities on the matter.

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