The Nigeria’s Communications Commission asked mobile phone operators to disconnect unregistered Sim cards. Failure to comply with the directive saw all 4 mobile operators in the populous nation from Airtel, Etisalat to Globacom and MTN Nigeria slapped with fines in August 2015. In October, the NCC fined MTN Nigeria $5 billion fine for failing to abide by these rules. According to the NCC, MTN failed to register 5 Million of its 62 million customers.
The fine led to the resignation of MTN Nigeria CEO and subsequently a former CEO and Chairman credited with turning MTN into the biggest telco in Africa took over operations. The share price of MTN, which is a public company loisted on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange has fallen by 24% since the announcement of the fine. According to Bloomberg, the Nigerian government wants all SIM cards registered to to curb money laundering and financing of terrorist activities. Nigeria is also faces crimes such as kidnappings for ransom and oil theft perpetrated via mobile devices.
The Commission insists the the $5.2 Billion fine remains even as negotiations continue. The fine was to be paid by yesterday November 16th but MTN got reprieve to continue with negotiations. The negotiations include among other things discussions MTN’s non-compliance and the remedial measures that may have to be adopted to address this. MTN has since said it broke the rules according to Bloomberg. MTN is currently appealing the decision even as negotiations continue with the NCC.