Buhari, Zuma to meet over MTN’s $5.2 billion fine in Nigeria

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From L to R: President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria and his South African counterpart, President Jacob Zuma.

President Muhammadu Buhari and his South African counterpart, President Jacob Zuma, are to meet in Johannesburg this week to discuss MTN’s $5.2billion fine.

This is according to South Africa-based Sunday Times newspaper.

Both leaders are expected to meet and discuss the fine along the sidelines of the Forum of China-Africa Co-operation. The event takes place on December 4-5 at the Sandton Convention Centre.

Sunday Times Newspaper also revealed that the South African Government was concerned about the $5.2 billion fine imposed by Nigerian authorities on MTN Group but said this would not affect relations between the continent’s two biggest economies.

“This issue is between MTN and the Nigerian authority. Obviously as government we are concerned about this matter and we do hope the talks between MTN and the Nigerian authorities bear fruit,” Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) fined MTN $5.2billion for failing to disconnect five million unregistered SIM cards in a timely manner. Nigeria’s SIM card registration process is designed to curb terror and criminal threats in the country.

The fine, which Denmark-based Strand Consult said is the biggest of its kind in history, has rattled the South African headquartered MTN whose share price shed about fifth of its value amid the penalty.

MTN’s group chief executive officer, Sifiso Dabengwa, subsequently quit while the company’s former CEO, Phuthuma Nhleko, was then appointed as executive chairperson and charged with the responsibility of tackling the fine.

Talks between MTN and the NCC regarding the fine are said to be ongoing with Nhleko having visited Nigeria. The Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) is also investigating MTN for how it announced its fine to shareholders.

MTN is viewed as Africa’s biggest mobile phone company with Nigeria being viewed as MTN’s biggest market.

Nigeria has been pushing all telecom operators to verify the identity of their subscribers, on concerns that unregistered SIM cards were being used for criminal activity in a country facing an insurgency by Islamic militant group Boko Haram.

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