MTN has pledged to invest US$1.6-billion (R23.4-billion) to expand its operations in Nigeria after settling the latest major dispute with authorities in its most profitable market.
Africa’s largest wireless carrier announced the investment after a meeting between senior executives including CEO Rob Shuter and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday. The two sides appeared to patch up recent differences and said they’ll work together to improve telecommunications networks in the continent’s most populous country.
“We are steadfast about our investments in Nigeria, particularly over the next three years as we aim to strengthen and expand our network and systems,” MTN chairman Mcebisi Jonas said in an e-mailed statement.
MTN on Thursday formally withdraw its case challenging the jurisdiction of the country’s attorney-general to charge it with $2-billion in back taxes. The claim was dropped earlier this month.
Nigeria is the biggest of MTN’s markets across Africa and the Middle East, but has also been a major headache for the Johannesburg-based company since a shock $5-billion fine was levied on the carrier in 2015. That penalty — later reduced to about $1-billion alongside a commitment by MTN to list its local unit in Lagos — was the start of a series of disputes that have, at least for now, all been resolved.
MTN shares fell 0.6% to R81.22 as of 9.39am in Johannesburg on Thursday, valuing the company at R153-billion. — Reported by Tope Alake, (c) 2020 Bloomberg LP