Surely, it’s not the best of times for South Africa’s Mobile Telecommunication Network Company (MTN). And the reason is not farfetched.
The Nigeria subsidiary of the telecoms giant is enmeshed in serious crisis at the moment on account of N1.04tn fine levied the company by Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) as a result of its non compliance with the commission’s subscribers rule on registration of lines.
Meanwhile, MTN had earlier agreed to pay the fine. But a couple of days back, the company’s management team from South Africa came to Nigeria with a view to engaging in a negotiation with the NCC on the matter.
However, ENCOMIUM Weekly’s investigation revealed that the South Africa owned number one telecommunications company’s visit to Nigeria was not unconnected with its plan to plead for forgiveness from NCC.
However, no conclusion was said to have been reached by the two parties. The source further said, “I don’t think MTN can be forgiven totally by NCC. Although, it has been in talks with the Nigerian presidency and the NCC to resolve the matter, that doesn’t mean it won’t still pay but may just be part of the fine because the amount is definitely a heavy burden for the company now. So, I don’t think there will be much reprieve as being speculated. And that’s going to affect the company’s operation in Nigeria as many of its staffers will be laid off, and no new ones will be recruited.”
Meanwhile MTN has reportedly started downsizing in anticipation of the company’s unavoidable financial mess awaiting it due the huge fine if eventually paid.
An inside source also told ENCOMIUM Weekly that the company has resorted to using more of contact workers instead of permanent ones. Even those being sacked are not sure of any entitlement. And ill-wind has affected a lot of Nigerians at the moment while fear has gripped those yet to be retrenched for the fear of unknown as regards the security of their jobs.
“The way things are going now in MTN Nigeria, many more workers will still be sent back to labour market. And that’s definitely going to have an adverse effect on Nigerian economy.
“Now, I learnt over 1000 workers are going to be sacked, including both junior and senior officers of the company. I pray our branch is not going to be affected.”
ENCOMIUM Weekly’s efforts to get the reaction of the Africa’s biggest mobile telecommunication operator on the issue, via its advertising agency, Media Perspective didn’t yield the desired result as the official line of the agency wasn’t available.
However, one of the senior staffers of the company who spoke to Encomium Weekly under the condition of anonymity confirmed the company’s predicament at the moment, adding that it’s the toughest of the company’s challenges since its establishment in Nigeria in 2001.
“Yes, things are not as usual now in MTN. And that has been affecting the company’s policy on employment and even staff welfare. Aside the penalty by the NCC, the company’s profit has reduced in recent times. It’s share has fallen sharply. These have really set the company backward now.”
On whether or not the company is paying the N1.04tn fine, the source reacted, “I can’t comment on that because I am not in a position to know that. All I learnt is that MTN’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Sifiso Dabengwa came to Abuja a couple of days back to negotiate for the reduction of the fine but I have not heard whether he was able to fulfill his mission.”
The NCC had a couple of weeks back imposed on MTN a fine of N200,000 for each unregistered subscriber or preregistered subscriber found on any telecommunication network operating in the country. But MTN was reported to have flouted registration rule therefore caught in the web of paying the huge fine following non- registration of about 5.6 million of its subscribers nationwide.