[/blockquote]The telecom regulator (NCC) in Nigeria’s has today given MTN Group two weeks to pay up the $5.2 billion fine that was imposed them for failure to cut off millions of users with unregistered SIM cards. NCC imposed the penalty on Monday to MTN Nigeria, the group’s biggest market by subscribers, which led to the company’s stock to drop by about 20% this week, though they bounced 2 percent by midday Friday.
The fine on MTN Nigeria comes months after the Uganda Communications Commission also threatened to fine MTN Uganda over $ 1 million for unlawful use of shortcodes among other reasons. In the case of Nigeria, NCC says that MTN failed to disconnect subscribers with unregistered or incomplete SIM cards, after ordering all network operators to do so.
Nigeria’s presidency and internal security agency who have also been involved in the talks with the MTN and the regulator said. MTN Chief Executive Sifiso Dabengwa flew to Abuja to make what three sources familiar with the matter said was an attempt have the penalty reduced. The fine imposed on MTN Nigeria is almost a quarter of country’s 2015 budget of $22 billion, and this would reportedly wipe out more than two years of MTN’s annual profits.
It was unclear what would happen to MTN, whose Nigerian license is up for renewal in 2016, if the company fails to pay the fine, but NCC’s powers include revoking licenses.