Over the weekend, the Nigerian Communication Commission [NCC] fined Africa’s largest telecoms firm, MTN 1.4 trillion Naira for failing to meet the SIM card registration deadline. NCC’s publicity secretary also said the fine was this massive because MTN’s misdemeanors had been piling up.
This hefty fine has really shaken MTN as their share prices have been on a downward spiral since Monday. The company is listed on the South African stock exchange and it’s valued at 21 Billion USD so one can imagine what a fine of 5 Billion Dollars will do to their books.
Well, 98.7654321% of Nigerians are happy with this development as they see it as REPARATIVE JUSTICE! MTN needs to pay for all their sins (against Nigerians) committed over the last decade. They have really shortchanged Nigeria and Nigerians, especially when you find out it was here they cut their teeth.
Before coming in to establish their Nigeria operations in 2000, they played a distant 2nd fiddle to Vodacom in South Africa. They came into Nigeria and luckily for them, they cornered the market due to their ability to play ”dirty’ ball (something Econet wasn’t willing to do).
This gave them a head start as by the time Econet was busy changing names and ownership and Glo entered the market (and Etisalat much later), MTN had already taken over the bulk of the subscriber base.
They are by far the biggest telecommunication company in Africa. Their Nigerian operation was what gave them this new found status.
Asides cheating Nigerians, they also cheated Nigeria by not wanting to commit themselves fully. What really has the MTN foundation given back? Asides a low budget music talent hunt show, what else are they doing for our music industry? Which soccer club are they sponsoring? I’m also not aware of any Telecoms Engineering scholarship they instituted.
With the monies they have been making from Nigeria, they should be able to open a Telecoms/IT University or tertiary institution here without batting an eye lid. How many Nigerians are MTN full staffs (not contract)? You would be surprised they don’t have up to 400 but they keep boasting of having over 60 million subscribers in Nigeria, what an Irony!
I think the years of MTN robbing Peter to pay Paul are over. MTN must directly or indirectly reparate all they’ve wrongly not remitted to their number one benefactor country, Nigeria. Hence the 5 billion US Dollars fine, imposed by the NCC for one irregularity too many, is very much in order. The sins of MTN and other South African owned conglomerates in Nigeria are many.
Over the years, they’ve abused the open arms and lax rules of trade the Nigerian government presented them with. By fining MTN, I think the NCC is also fining DSTV indirectly. All South African companies with a penchant for fleecing Nigerian consumers should hence take not(e) and be guided.
By Simon Utsu
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