MTN is Africa’s biggest mobile network with over 230 million subscribers in 22 countries across the Middle East and Africa
26 October, MTN Nigeria was fined $5.2 billion by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). That’s around R70 Billion
The MTN share price dropped by 20% in that week. As Suzelle DIY would say: “Oh Fok”
MTN got fined because they have not disconnected 5.2 million of their users with unregistered or improperly registered SIM cards
The registration requirements are a lot like our RICA requirements but with biometric information required as well
The registration program was launched in 2010, but with 150 million SIM cards in use and large numbers of people living in remote areas the process was almost impossible.
The registration process eventually dragged on for almost three years.
MTN payed a small fine of R2 million in 2013 for incorrectly registered SIM cards
In June 2015 the NCC announced that telecoms operators needed to embark on a round of re-registration as it claimed it had found 38,87 million SIMs that had not been registered correctly
Operators were given until the end of August to rectify the situation
In September, the NCC imposed R8.2 million worth of fines on operators for failing to either properly register SIM cards or disconnect the users. MTN had to pay the largest share.
Reports from Nigeria, paint a picture of confusion and chaos:
Many people who believed they were properly registered have had their lines blocked, and the operators have been inundated with customers trying to validate their details.
Some sources also suggest that the operators were still in talks with the NCC about the exact number of unregistered users and did not know they had to take decisive action, when the deadline passed.
There’s more: There are suggestions that the NCC was forced to act after the recent kidnapping of a senior Nigerian politician in which MTN was unable to provide information on the mobile numbers used to make the ransom demands
MTN shares were suspended on the JSE for three hours on Monday as there were unconfirmed reports in Nigeria about the mobile network having reportedly decided to pay the multi-billion dollar fine. The shares went into a free fall and MTN requested the suspension
MTN is also facing an investigation by the JSE into how the mobile network announced its Nigerian fine on Monday October 26. Read: questions around inside trading
Just think, your day could be worse, you could be MTN CEO Sifiso Dabengwa