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MTN Group thumbs-up Nigeria, plans mobile financial services

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The Group Chairman and Chief Executive of MTN, Mr. Phuthuma Freedom Nhleko thumbs-up Nigeria’s economy, and expresses the group’s plans for mobile financial services,

Nhleko gave the commendation about the country’s economy recently when his team of delegation visited the headquarters of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in Abuja. Nhleko was received by the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the NCC, Prof Umar Danbatta and top management of the Commission where he expressed the Group’s belief in Nigeria and their ability to invest more in the sector in the years to come.

“We had challenges in the past, during the period of the fine, and we are grateful for the role, the Commission played towards an amicable resolution,” he said. Nhleko who steps down as Group Chairman in March, 2017 disclosed that MTN Group has injected over $16billion into the Nigerian operations. Nhleko requested for more spectrum allocation and a release of the one that belonged to Visafone, whose equity shares MTN acquired in 2015.

He also canvassed for a more level playing field ‘despite being dominant player’ stressing that “We have a very long way to go and so ask for spectrum which is the oxygen and life blood to navigate this long and tedious investment journey, without spectrum, the sector will suffocate.”

According to him, MTN has made its mark in voice and data services and that more services like mobile financial services are underway despite the grim challenges arising from the N330billion fine imposed on MTN by NCC in 2016. In his remark, Prof. Danbatta assured the delegation that the Commission will always play by the rules and support every operator within the ambits of the law. “I like to state that our word is our covenant.

When we take decisions, we are concerned about the stability of the industry and there is no way we can guarantee it without considering the dominant status of MTN and its obligations and if the dominant status is becoming stringent, we are open to engagement, we will be guided by what is happening in the market, to ensure the growth and development of the sector,” he emphasized. He said “the sector has contributed very well to the National Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and has shown remarkable resilience in this recession”

Danbatta said the NCC made a case for relaxing fiscal policies towards the sector that has contributed very well to the National Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and has shown remarkable resilience in this recession to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor.

He hinted that the CBN Governor is has displayed his commitment to the request and further engagement particularly towards major players who desire to import equipment to aid deployment of broadband infrastructure services among others. Commenting on the spectrum issue, the NCC boss said MTN got six slots in the 2.6 GHz auction and full utilization of that spectrum is envisaged.
“We are open to further discussion on the areas of spectrum assignment,” he said, advising MTN to put across request for spectrum of interest and NCC will check its availability.

“The Commission is here to protect the interests of the operators as well as consumers, consistent with our mandate, the trust reposed on us by the government and people of Nigeria; protecting their interests and ensuring a level playing field and respect for our laws,” he explained. The Commission, according to him only resorts to sanctions as a regulatory action of last resort after allowing time for checking compliance.

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Ihesiulo Grace

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