N1.04trn Fine is 95% of Our Annual Revenue - MTN Cries Out

Giant telecommunications operator, MTN has said the N1.04trn fine slammed on it by the Nigerian Communications Commission can run the company aground.

This was made known by the new chief executive officer of MTN Nigeria, Mr. Ferdi Moolman.He said the N1.04 trillion ($5.2 billion) fine imposed on the mobile operator by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is actually 95 per
cent of its annual turnover, noting that paying it in its entirety could fold the network.

NCC had in late October 2015 fined MTN Nigeria N1.05 trillion for not deactivating 5.1 million pre-registered subscriber identification module (SIM) lines discovered on its network. Speaking with media at the weekend, he acknowledged the tough operating environment MTN has found itself.

Moolman noted that though the fine was hash on the operator, he said MTN has learnt lessons from it and would work to restore relationship with the regulator, stakeholders and its customers. "I see a situation where the relationship with NCC is restored in the interest of the Nigerian public, where we start providing services again to the Nigerian public together with the NCC" he said.

He said the amount was about 95 per cent of the company's total revenue for a year. "The size of the fine blows my mind when you start looking at the figure. It is huge, it is massive. How do you fix it, what do you do? Operating in the telecom world has become challenging" he said.

He explained that the falling oil prices and fluctuating foreign exchange were having a negative impact on the ability of the company to import equipment from abroad. "It is really disturbing and it has become more difficult to import equipment from abroad. These two issues of falling oil prices and fluctuating foreign exchange regime are serious issues, but we have confidence in the Central Bank of Nigeria's (CBN) efforts to resolve the matter."

Moolman said going forward, MTN is positioning itself as full digital company playing deep in the broadband, broadcasting and digital content space in the information and communications technology sector. "We would like to take this company from a telecom company to a people's company so that people can communicate with each other, entertain themselves, something that people are proud to be part of.

On SIM registration, Moolman said that a solid database of MTN's subscribers was key to the next phase of the telecommunications revolution, especially in the area of broadband provisioning. He said it had commenced a complete re-registration of all its more than 63 million subscribers in Nigeria.

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