Africa’s telecommunications giant, MTN, has paid a total of N275 billion ($763.40 million) from the N330 billion ($916.7 million) fine slammed on it by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in 2015, for failing to register its subscribers after several warnings and the company is due to make the final payment of the fine by the end of the month. This was made known by the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Umar Danbatta.
“The balance and final tranche of the payment will be paid by May 31, 2019, in line with the structure of the staggered payments agreed by MTN and the Nigerian government,” said Danbatta.
It would be recalled that in 2016, MTN Nigeria settled with NCC to reduce the fine of N1.04 trillion to N330 Billion. The punitive fine was imposed because of the company’s failure to disconnect subscribers who were not adequately registered despite numerous warnings by the regulatory body urging its compliance.
After much deliberation, the fine was significantly reduced with terms mandating the company to list its shares on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) and offer a formal apology to the government and the citizens within a month of the execution of the agreement.
When the agreement was reached, the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, remarked that the settlement was in order to encourage investment in the country.
According to Danbatta after six months of negotiation and renegotiation over the fine which led to the reduction to N330 billion, it was agreed that MTN would pay the balance of N280 billion in six tranches in addition to the “goodwill” payment of N50 billion earlier made by MTN to the government.
After the negotiation, MTN began the payment structure with the payment of N30 billion into NCC’s Treasury Single Account (TSA) with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) 30 days from the date of the agreement dated June 10 2016. MTN later paid N30 billion on March 31, 2017; N55 billion on March 31, 2018; N55 billion on December 31, 2018, and on March 31, it paid N55 billion.
As a result of this fine by Nigeria, MTN’s biggest market, it recorded a loss of 445 cents per share in 2016, but in 2017 it recorded an increase in its profit. MTN has finally listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange this year.
Danbatta also said that NCC has succeeded in empowering Nigerians “to control, manage and own telecommunications companies in Nigeria by owning shares in MTN Nigeria.”