We are building MTN as a Nigerian entity – CEO

The main telecommunications company, MTN Nigeria, has said it is making the company a Nigerian entity.

The company also said that the fine imposed on it by the government led by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 forced it to obey rules set by the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC).

MTN Nigeria CEO Karl Toriola said this Thursday when he appeared on Arise TV’s “The Morning Show” as part of the commemoration of the company’s 20 years of activity in Nigeria.

The Nigerian government had fined the company 1.04 trillion naira for violating SIM registration rules.

The breaches included the company’s failure to comply with the provision of the NCC Telephone Subscribers Registration Regulations 2011 and the disconnection of 5.2 million incorrectly registered subscriber identification module (SIM) lines within the prescribed time frame.

The government said the lines were engaged in economic activities without proper registration.

Part of the punishment was for MTN to apologize to Nigerians, subscribe to mandatory compliance with the Corporate Governance Code for the telecommunications industry, and secure its listing on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

MTN made strenuous efforts to reduce the fine by entering into a series of negotiations with the government, which resulted in the reduction of the penalty to 330 billion naira.

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The company paid the fine six times and it was listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, allowing interested Nigerians to own shares.

The arrangement follows a installment payment plan the company sealed with the government.

By mid-May 2019, the company had paid 275 billion naira of the fine to the federal government and made the remaining N55 billion payment before the end of the month.

MTN began payment of its N30 billion fine into NCC’s Single Treasury Account (TSA) domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) 30 days from the date of the agreement, dated of June 10, 2016.

He then paid 30 billion naira on March 31, 2017; 55 billion naira as of March 31, 2018; 55 billion naira as of December 31, 2018; 55 billion naira on March 31, 2019 and topped up the balance of 55 billion naira in May 2019.

Speaking on the TV show, Toriola said, “We have successfully engaged with the government and ended this (good). It is a path behind us. We paid the final agreed sum on the fine in full, and were listed by IPO as part of the deal.

“We have built our relationships and we have also redefined ourselves to view compliance with government regulatory policies as non-negotiable.

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“Beyond that, we have taken a position of relying on government policies and we define MTN as a Nigerian entity.”

He said the telecommunications industry had been a “massive catalyst” for the country.

Telco is a South African company, but Nigeria is its biggest market. The company achieved sales of N385.3 billion in the first quarter of 2021.

According to the CEO, MTN Nigeria had maintained a strong relationship with the government and its subscribers, despite the sanction.

He said the organization faces a business climate similar to Nigeria in the countries where it operates and has the will to overcome them.

Toriola said that as a result of the organization’s good relations with the country, the federal government has made mutually beneficial decisions with the company, including the Nigerian government’s decision. approval of MTN participation in the construction of approximately 110 kilometers of Enugu-Onitsha highway.

He said the organization had donated 3 billion naira to CACOVID, a non-state platform to support the fight against COVID-19 in the country.

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He said the company paid half the money.

Meanwhile, MTN Nigeria would not comment on the raging debate over the electronic transfer of 2023 election results, Toriola said.

Citing the lack of national coverage by telecommunications operators, the National Assembly voted against the electronic transfer of votes in the next general elections as part of the amendment to the country’s electoral law, against the wishes of most Nigerians.

“I will stay completely away from INEC and electoral issues. It is not our rule as a private sector operator. However, wherever we are called to serve the nation in any form, with capacity on our network, we will. We will do it to the best of our ability, ”Toriola said.

Nigeria has forced telecom operators to strictly adhere to the Telephone Subscriber Registration Regulations (2011) amid growing insecurity and other crimes in the country.

For example, kidnappers, terrorists and fraudsters use SIM cards that have allegedly been improperly registered to carry out their activities.

However, despite the supposed compliance with the regulations and the introduction of other measures by the government such as the National Identification Number (NIN), crime and insecurity has escalated.

MTN is one of the four major telecommunications operators in Nigeria.

Marcus Fatunmole

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