So yesterday, Nigerians woke up to the breaking news that Africa’s biggest telecoms network, MTN was fined $5.2 billion by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for what amounts to be the biggest fine in the history of mobile telecoms in Nigeria.
The fine which is the largest in the history of telecom infringements may redefine the relationships between telecommunications operators and the regulator. The NCC fined MTN Nigeria “for allegedly undermining efforts by the Nigerian government to tackle security challenges and the war on terror and allied crimes, as the telecoms operator has allegedly refused to deactivate unregistered mobile phone lines on its network”.
On account of the news from Nigeria, MTN Group’s share price dropped by 12% in one day, after it was discovered that the Nigerian entity failed to disconnect customers with unregistered SIM cards.
In a swift reaction to the fine, MTN in a statement said, the penalty relates to the timing of the disconnection of 5.1 million MTN Nigeria subscribers in August and September and is based on a fine of 200,000 naira ($1,005) for each unregistered subscriber.
The company however said that “MTN Nigeria is in talks with the NCC to resolve the matter.”
The NCC had ordered all mobile phone companies to register their customers’ SIM cards by August or face sanctions. MTN currently has about 233 million customers in 22 countries in the Middle East and Africa.