MTN to Pay 1.7 Billion USD Fine To Nigeria

MTN, South African Telecom Company, is set to pay a whopping 1.7 billion USD to Nigeria – its biggest market in Africa. The reason behind the 1.7 billion USD fine, revealed to be a final settlement agreement, is due to the company’s inability to disconnect unregistered sim card users.

The misconduct which led to an alert on the South African telecom firm, MTN, was associated with a total of about 5 million telephone lines being used by Boko Haram in Nigeria. Failure to disconnect these lines led to a proclaimed fine of 5.2 billion USD by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

Boko Haram activities had led to the death of thousands of men and women in children. Additionally, its associated kidnapping of young girls for sex trade was also known all over the social media. One of the useful techniques identified by investigators of Boko Haram was telecommunication; specifically, unregistered mobile sim cards which are untraceable. Though much advancements and improvements were announced by the Nigerian President, activities of Boko Haram militants have not successfully ended. According to the President of Nigeria, the fine set by the NCC is not just to take money from the South African Telecommunication Company but to strengthen security.  MTN slacked in acting on regulating registered and unregistered mobile phones, leading to the fine.

Since last year, Africa’s biggest mobile-phone operator had been in communication with the NCC to reduce the 5.2 billion USD fine set by the NCC. As At last year, the fine stood at 3.9 billion USD; through several communications and negotiations, management of MTN and NCC have agreed to reduce the size of the fine to 1.7 billion USD – of which MTN has agreed to pay over 3 years, a cash amount of 330 billion Naira.

Last year, Nigeria’s telecommunication regulator announced the fine to MTN in reference to their struggle in identifying sim card users in the phase of frequent kidnapping by Boko Haram.

Phuthuma Nhleko (MTN executive chairman) said “This is the best outcome for the company.” He added that, the company is really appreciative to the state at which the NCC and the Government of Nigeria resolved the case. For now, MTN is scheduled to pay the 1.7 billion USD fine in a three year period after its first payment in February.

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