N780bn fine: MTN seeks early resolution
MTN Nigeria at the weekend in Lagos said it was willing to restore relationship with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) so that the industry could move forward.
It added that early resolution of the impasse was important for the telco as the total fine amounted to about 95 per cent of the Group's total revenue for a year.
The telco spoke against the backdrop of its face-off with the regulator over the N780billion fine imposed on it for failing to deactivate about 5.2million pre-registered subscriber identity module (SIM) cards.
MTN said it holds the regulator in very high esteem no matter the current situation in the industry. The fine issue has however become a subject of litigation in court.
Its Chief Executive Officer, Ferdi Moolman and Corporate Service Executive, Aminat Oyagbola, who spoke with reporters at its Corporate Headquarters, in Lagos, said the regulator, as the most important stakeholder in the industry, could not be ignored.
Moolman recalled the transformation that has taken place in the country over the years, saying for people that visited the country over the last 14 years, the development is too obvious to be ignored.
He said MTN contributed in no small measure to the transformation because its vast network has served as vehicle to transform business and personal lives.
He regretted that there may have been challenges in the course of upgrading and swapping obsolete equipment in the country, adding that the massive size of the network itself is also a challenge.
Also speaking, Oyagbola said the approach to reconciliation is to correct any area where the firm had erred in the past and be transparent in dealing with all stakeholders in the ecosystem.
'The approach is to take the steps lined up to move the industry forward, correct where we have erred in the past, ensure good business relationship with all stakeholders in the industry. It starts with the show of good faith; speaking the truth. We want to restore our relationship with the regulator and generate more goodwill,' she stated.
MTN appealed to affected subscribers in the on-going re-registration of SIM cards, stressing that the whole process would be a win-win situation all stakeholders.
Moolman said it has become imperative for the telco to ensure that it has a reliable database of its subscribers because of the next phase of the telecoms revolution, especially in the area of broadband services.
Oyagbola said to ensure the integrity of the data being captured, MTN actually purchased new systems, hired about 10,000 contract staff for the re-registration process, adding that the firm was committed to supporting the government in building a dependable national database.
According to her, the firm is doing the registration afresh, stressing that it will be done in batches, which should be completed in the next six months.
'We are sorry about the number of time a subscriber had to revisit our outlet. The target is to have an accurate data base from our own end and then synchronise it with that of the regulator.
'It is a huge exercise. We have placed order for SIM registration equipment from the manufacturers, but they claimed to have run out of stocks because it is not only Nigeria that is registering subscribers. They gave us till March for them to have stocks,' Oyagbola stated.
The CEO also lamented the impact of the falling oil prices and fluctuating foreign exchange.
According to him, these challenges are impacting negatively on the ability of the firm 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 confident about CBN's efforts in resolving the matter,' Moolman stated.