Tag Archives: MTN

Feb. 9: Deadline for NIN registration, risky

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Director of Public Affairs, NCC, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, said the commission is not enrolling, but the network operators working with NIMC.

There are strong indications the Federal Government, through the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), may not achieve the National Identification Number (NIN)-Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) full linkage of mobile numbers in the country in the less than four weeks remaining to February 9, from now.

Findings by NoRM showed that about 95 per cent of the 173 Agents and 30 state government/public sector institutions licensed by NIMC to conduct enrolment of all persons, including legal residents into the National Identity Database (NIDB) on behalf of the NIMC are yet to put anything in place for the exercise.

This development has further compounded the capacity of NIMC, whose 1000 enrolment centres spread across the country – inadequate to handle the process, and which necessitated the licensing of the agents – continued to witness a large daily turnout of Nigerians, who want to beat the February 9 deadline and avoid being cut off from the telephone networks.

The implication of this is that the deadline date for the completion of linkage of existing NIN with all SIM cards as directed by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami is not going to be feasible.

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On December 15, 2020, the NCC, at the instance of the Minister, issued a statement ordering the suspension of the registration of new SIM cards by all Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in the country while at the same time giving two weeks for persons with SIM cards to link them with the NIN or risk the numbers being suspended. The deadline was later extended by five weeks.

Aside from the challenges of procuring the equipment for enrolment from offshore vendors, which could take several weeks or months due to foreign exchange scarcity, clearance from the ports could pose another potential hurdle. This is in addition to the gaps in workforce training for handlers of the new equipment, among others.

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The Director-General/Chief Executive of NIMC, Aliyu Aziz, had last December explained in a statement that the agents were picked after successfully fulfilling all the conditions in the advertised expression of interest (EOI), which was done in 2019 as a first step towards the take-off of the National Digital Identity Ecosystem project.

According to the statement announcing the licensees, a breakdown of the successful licensees shows that 16 state governments were licensed, including Abia, Akwa Ibom, Gombe, Lagos, Kaduna, Katsina, Kano, Oyo, Ogun, Sokoto, and Zamfara states.

Prominent among the public sector institutions licensed are the NCC, the National Pension Commission, the Central Bank of Nigeria (through the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement Systems Plc), the National Population Commission, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Joint Tax Board and Nigeria Postal Services.

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Other public sector organisations issued licences include the Military Pensions Board, Abuja Enterprise Agency, the Corporate Affairs Commission, the National Health Insurance Scheme, the National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services and National Commission for Refugees, the Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons.

The main mobile network operators in Nigeria, MTN, Airtel, Globacom, and 9mobile are among the 173 private sector organisations licensed while Etranzact, VDT Communications, the Unified Payment Services were also successful.

Findings showed that Nigeria’s digital identity project is World Bank supported. Other international funding agencies supporting the Nigeria Digital Identity Ecosystem Project are the Française de Dévelopement (AFD) and the European Union (EU). The total combined loan facility stands at $433 million.

The project was one of the five approved by the World Bank on February 18, 2020, in Washington DC, the United States.

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World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, had said: “The World Bank is ramping up its support to Nigeria in its efforts to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty.”

According to the World Bank Statement: “This will enable people in Nigeria, especially marginalised groups, to access welfare-enhancing services. The project will also enhance the ID system’s legal and technical safeguards to protect personal data and privacy.

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Around September 2019, there were reports that the World Bank was pouring $433 million (N1.5 trillion) in support into the NIMC to boost the NIN program, to enable the agency to register close to 100 million Nigerians over the next three years.

While NIMC awaits the World Bank facility, the process, The Guardian learned has started with the licensing of the 203 agents.

The ecosystem entails that if any of the agents enroll a person, and successfully generates a NIN from the NIMC backend, and issues, such an agent gets $1 per NIN.

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“It is a performance-based system. That is, the more successful NINs, the more money for the agent,” a person familiar with the matter at NIMC disclosed, adding that the loan facility does not sit at NIMC, but with the Federal Ministry of Finance, which in turn will make the payment upon confirmation by NIMC of a successful generation of NIN by a licensed agent.
BUT findings showed that most of the agents, who were meant to ease the pains of Nigerians who have no NIN but desirous to quickly enroll to link their SIM cards, are not really ready for the task four weeks to the deadline.

An official of Globacom, who preferred anonymity said, “Globacom has not started anything.”

Speaking unofficially, a senior MTN staff, said: “The equipment to be used is not just sitting anywhere before now. We will just bring them in from abroad. I can say that none of the 173 firms can say they have started anything. It must also be mentioned that the budget for it was not part of the CAPEX for last year. But to show some seriousness on our part, we have started enrolment at some of our outlets using fixed Windows devices, and you can imagine how the process will be without the real equipment.”

The MTN official also denied claims that operators have started blocking SIMs: “nobody will do that. There is an extension, moreover, blocking of SIM is revenue loss to any operator,” he stated.

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Speaking on the issue, the Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo, said there is a need to handle the matter very carefully.

“I feel so because, if the right decision is not made and information is not passed by the government and the government is led to take the wrong decision, it can destroy the good of the industry. So, at our level as a stakeholder, we are working with the government. We are on the Ministerial Committee.

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“The advice to the government is, we should continue to thread with caution because telecoms today is the driver of the economy. If you put the subscribers at risk, a significant one for that matter, the risk is on the entire economy,” he stated.

Adebayo believed that such a challenge will also send wrong signals to investors and those, who may be willing to do business in Nigeria.

Of course, Adebayo said Nigeria deserves a reliable and credible national database, and the industry is committed to working with all the stakeholders to get this done.

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Giving more insights on the matter, the Nigeria National Coordinator, Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) Olusola Teniola, reminded that the issuance of licences to these companies only happened less than four weeks ago, upon the completion of the long process leading to the issuance.

“We can work it out! When that meeting was held, they gave two weeks. We have passed two weeks, now in the first week of January, if all things being equal and there is no delay, we can consider that the equipment should be at the Port of Lagos, assuming there is a perfect situation in terms of logistic, and we also assumed that they have not been cleared. By the time they are cleared, add another week, by the time they are installed in the offices that the licensees want to use to capture, even the deadline of February 9 is at risk,” Teniola stressed.

According to him, even NIMC that has the equipment is not able to achieve the number it ought to capture in a week, “and we have COVID-19 the second wave happening right now, it reduces the capacity of capturing because you have to abide by COVID-19 guidelines, which means you have reduced a number of people you can actually capture, and with a reduced number of capturing across the country, FG will not achieve that date, logistically; we can capture the required factor, so it becomes the delaying factor. And as a delaying factor and in continuation with the policy that telcos should disconnect SIMs without NIN, there will be a huge impact on the economy. There is no sentiment in this; it is not going to work unless there is an extension.”

Adinde said from the report he gathered, NIMC on a daily basis is opening enrolment centres to fast-track the exercise.

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On his part, the Head, Corporate Communications, Nigeria Postal Service (NIPOST), Frank Alao, said he was yet to get the details of the NIN exercise on the part of the organisation.

“I just resumed from leave today (yesterday). NIPOST is one of the NIN enrolment licensees. Let me find out from the Chief Operating Officer, I will get back,” he stated.

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#Newsworthy

PTECSSAN threatens two weeks strike over anti-labour practices by MTN Nigeria MGT.

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The Private Telecommunications and Communications Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PTECSSAN) has threatened to embark on a two-week industrial action over the alleged anti-labour practices by the management of MTN Nigeria.

The union, which is an affiliate of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), issued the warning in a statement on Tuesday.

It also vowed to disrupt the services of the telecommunications company nationwide after several attempts to resolve the issues failed.

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According to PTECSSAN, the issues bother on the remuneration of workers, exit packages for long-term staff, employee relations practices, and alleged abuse of expatriate quota, amongst others.

It accused MTN of disregarding its employees in the country, saying such an action was contrary to the core values preached by the organisation.

“MTN practices an unwholesome, insensitive, and discriminatory structure in the emoluments of some categories of workers.

“Workers on the same job level earn disproportionately. In many cases, members of a team earn more than their team leads and even more than their direct managers,” the union alleged.

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It added, “Non-payment of severance benefits at the point of departure of employees after long years of dedicated and uninterrupted services to the company has become a deep frustrating practice to the live long guarantees for workers in MTN.

“The company claims it has not been paying exiting employees severance benefits, hence, it cannot be a matter for negotiation with the union despite the fact that social dialogue demands that all matters without exception concerning workers in the workplace are subject to negotiation.

“The rate at which companies in the telecommunications sector import excessive manpower to the country to do jobs Nigerians are not lacking in competence is alarming. It is becoming pervasive in MTN Nigeria as well.

“We have several expatriates in the company who do exactly what Nigerians do. Most of these expatriates are trained by Nigerians and we still wonder how the permits for these individuals were approved.”

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The union warned that if the company fails to yield to its demands or source for another alternative to satisfy their business interests, its proposed strike would be wide and compelling with deep implications for the company’s businesses.

“Once again, we reinstate that if our demands are not fully and appropriately complied with by MTN Nigeria Telecommunications Limited on or before the next 14 days from today, we shall withdraw every guarantee of industrial peace within MTN Nigeria. Services may be disrupted across the nation throughout the network from the midnight of the 24th day of August 2020,” it said.

PTECSSAN leadership at a press conference on August 11, 2020. (Noble Reporters Media / Adigun Michael Olamide)

A Great Place To Work
In his reaction, MTN’s Chief Corporate Services Officer, Tobechukwu Okigbo, stated that the allegations made by the labour union were totally untrue and without any merit.

Bayelsa NSCDC Uncovers Plot To Attack MTN
A file photo of the MTN logo.

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Okigbo, in a statement sent to Channels Television, insisted that MTN has built a ‘people first’ culture that empowers its employees, values inclusivity and hard work, and instills a responsibility for its customers and communities.

“This is what defines and unites us. MTN cares greatly about all its workers, deploying global best practice people solutions and policies that make MTN Nigeria a great place to work.

“We intentionally invest in our people. Indeed, MTN’s success in Nigeria is as a result of the hard work, commitment, and dedication of all staff, guided by a strong culture of people management,” the statement said.

It added, “Our people/workforce are our most critical competitive advantage and a key differentiator in the marketplace so we take staff welfare, remuneration, and career development seriously.

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“We have stringent policies in place that promote meritocracy and protect our employees from all forms of harassment and discrimination and creates a workplace where employees feel valued and safe.”

Recently, the MTN group announced plans to exit the Middle East and focus on the African continent, stating that the Middle East environment was becoming increasingly complex and has contributed less to its earnings.

It explained that the move was part of its medium-term strategy, starting with the sales of its 75 percent stake in MTN Syria.

After the planned exit, the firm’s entire portfolio would amount to 17 subsidiaries in Africa.

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Meanwhile, half-year earnings report sent to the Nigerian Stock Exchange showed that MTN Nigeria reported a half-year revenue of N638 billion in 2020, compared to N566.9 billion it reported in the same period last year, driven by growth in data revenues in the first and second quarters of the year.

In the second quarter of 2020, total revenue rose by 8.5 per cent to N308.9 billion, driven largely by higher data revenues.

The company explained that the growth in data revenue was driven by growth in data usage and traffic while adding two million new data subscribers in the quarter compared to 1.8 million in the first quarter.

PTECSSAN, however, insisted that the increase in revenue was enough reason why the company should not engage in unfair treatment of its staff in a country that contributes about 60 per cent in its entire Africa operations.


#Newsworthy…

Hanan Buhari’s Sim Card: DSS appeal N10m

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Following a N10m judgment delivered by a Federal High Court in the case involving the purchase of a SIM card previously owned by the President’s daughter, Hanan Buhari, the Department of State Services has now filed an appeal.

Justice Nnamdi Dimgba had in May ordered the DSS to pay a trader, Anthony Okolie, who was detained for 10 weeks without charge for buying Hanan’s old SIM card.

Okolie subsequently filed a human rights suit against the DSS, Hanan, and telecoms firm, MTN.

While the court absolved Hanan and MTN of blame, it ordered the DSS to pay Okolie N10m for trampling on his rights.

After winning the case, Okolie’s lawyer, Mr Tope Akinyode, vowed to recover the judgment debt and threatened to institute contempt proceedings against the Director-General of the DSS over non-payment.

However, the DSS has lodged an appeal over its defeat and the security agency is seeking to obtain a stay of execution to bar Okolie from enforcing payment of the judgment sum until the appeal is determined.

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Reacting to the development, Akinyode, who is also the National President of Revolutionary Lawyers’ Forum, said the application for stay of execution would be opposed and his client would be asking the court to compel the DSS to pay the judgment sum into an interest yielding account to be designated by the court.

The lawyer said, “We are vehemently opposing the application for stay of execution. It’s a frivolous ploy by the SSS to delay payment. We will be asking the court to compel them to make payment into an interest yielding account designated by the court and whoever wins at the appellate court will harvest the money.

“Also we’ll be cross appealing against the remaining two defendants, especially the daughter of the president about who we were able to place convincing evidence of her involvement before the trial court.”

The case has been fixed for July 7, 2020, for argument by the parties.


#Newsworthy…

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COVID-19: MTN NG staff now working from home.


MTN Nigeria on Sunday said its team would start working from home as part of the precautionary measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 Mr Funso Aina, the telcos Senior Manager, External Relations, said in a statement that from March 23, workers are expected to perform their duties from home.

Aina said that the telcos operations would continue to run at full scale with essential staff working limited hours on-site. “We also plan to announce the temporary closure of some of our stores.Those that remain open, will operate reduced hours and maintain strict and social distances measures.


“ The situation unfolding around the world is unlike anything we have seen in our lifetimes and is a reminder that we are all more connected than we ever know. “To get through this, we need each other with patience, understanding, compassion, and to do the right thing for each other,” he said.

Aina noted that the company had been closely monitoring the situation and “believe it is crucial that companies do two things, which was helping to contain the escalating outbreak and safeguard operations so that economies keep moving.


He said that for MTN in particular, they understood the vital role the network and services play in supporting people, organisations and institutions nationwide.

“Our hearts go out to everyone impacted by COVID-19, especially those diagnosed with the virus, their family and friends, and all those whose jobs, education, and way of life have been affected.

“We have also complemented the government’s sensitisation drive, introduced rigorous cleaning measures and equipped team members with additional sanitation and safety products. “As part of our response plan, in the coming days, we will introduce our Y’ello care package, several new measures as part of a concerted effort to support our customers.

“These include further amplifying governments sensitisation efforts, using more channels to deliver health and safety information, and suspending fees for all money transfers using our Momo Agent network,” he said.


#Newsworthy…

Court object MTN’s suit against Malami ..


The Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday struck out a N3bn fundamental rights enforcement suit filed by telecommunications firm, MTN Nigeria Communications Ltd, against the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN).


Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke made the order following a resolution of a $2billion dispute between MTN and the Federal Government.

MTN had filed the suit to challenge an August 20, 2018 letter written to it by the AGF, demanding $2bn in alleged unremitted tax.


But the minister told the judge through his counsel Habibat Ajana that the AGF had reviewed the issue and withdrawn the demand letter via a January 8, 2020 letter to MTN.

MTN’s lead counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), said having withdrawn demand letter, his client would drop its suit against the AGF.


Consequently, Justice Aneke struck out the suit.

In the suit, MTN had prayed the court to award N3bn against the AGF for rights infringement.

Olanipekun had argued that in writing the demand letter to MTN, Malami acted beyond his powers and violated the provisions of Section 36 of the Constitution on fair hearing with “the purported revenue assets investigation” he carried out on the firm’s activities covering 2007 to 2017.

The court had on May 8, 2019 ruling dismissed AGF’s preliminary objection to the suit.


#Newsworthy…

$2bn Tax debts against MTN cancelled


MTN Nigeria yesterday disclosed its legal counsel has received a letter dated January 8, 2020 from the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (AGF) formally withdrawing his demand for N242,244,452,215.97 and USD$1, 283,610,357.86 alleged revenue indebtedness.

According to the company in a press statement sent to Saturday Sun and signed by Uto Ukpanah, MTN Company Secretary , the letter confirmed that following careful review and due consultation with relevant statutory agencies, the AGF has decided to refer the matter to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) with a view to resolving contentious issues. MTN consequently said it will follow due court process to withdraw its legal action against the AGF and engage with the FIRS and NCS on the issues adding that MTN remains committed to conducting its business in accordance with applicable laws in Nigeria.


Expressing satisfaction at the development, MTN Nigeria CEO, Ferdi Moolman said “we are very pleased with the decision of the AGF and we commend him for his wisdom. We maintain our dedication to building and maintaining cordial relationships with all regulatory authorities in Nigeria and remain fully committed to meeting our fiscal responsibilities and contributing to the social and economic development of Nigeria.”

Recall that, the Attorney General Abubakar Malami had alleged that MTN owed taxes relating to the import of equipment and payments to foreign suppliers from 2007 to 2017.

MTN, which began operation in Nigeria in 2001, is the country’s largest operator with some 60 million subscribers.

The company last year settled a $1.5 billion fine levelled by the NCC for failing to disconnect unregistered subscribers.


#Newsworthy…

Gov. Ayade, Calabar becomes the first state to test-run MTN’s 5G Technology.

The Governor of Cross River State, Prof Ben Ayade, has lauded MTN Group, Africa’s leading cellular telecommunications company in Nigeria, for its choice of Calabar as one of the pilot cities to test-run its latest technological innovation – the 5G technology.

The Governor, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Orientation, Dr. Aye Henshaw, made gave the commendation during the Company’s 5G technology trial, held on 28 November 2019, at MTN Office, Etta Agbor Road, Calabar.

Prof Ayade said with Cross River, being a technically-savvy State, MTN’s latest 5G technology, when it becomes fully operational, will further energise the state’s aspiration of becoming the first smart city in Nigeria.

“The arrival of 5G technology in Calabar is not a coincidence. We are pretty gratified that MTN chose Calabar as one of the pilot cities for this project,” he stated.

“I know that we have a history of partnership with MTN. When we started to build the Optic Fibre Network, it was in partnership with MTN. Going forward, the current administration has invested a lot of funds in equipment that will lead to the realization of that project. And very soon, we will call MTN again on issues of connectivity, because the Ayade-led administration, as a test-run, wants to get the entire Carnival Calabar route to be smart,” Governor Ayade added.

The Governor, who described the 5G innovation as a welcomed development, commended the company for displaying the abundance of benefits the 5G technology brings.

The Governor promised to key in and build on the existing partnership, while wishing MTN a faster rollout that would lead to the adoption and approval of the technology for the consumption of Cross Riverians and other residents of the State.

In his remarks, the Chief Technical Officer, MTN Nigeria, Mr. Mohammed Rufai, after conducting the Governor and other dignitaries round the 5G Demonstration Booths, said the exercise was just a demonstration of the technology which is subject to the ratification, adoption and approval of the National Communications Commission (NCC).

Also speaking, the Chief Sales and Distribution Officer, Mr. Adekunle Adebiyi, added that the 5G innovation will bring a whole new change to digital service delivery, while advising all to begin to tune towards adaptation to the modern-day phenomenon.

He said:”How we go about our investments, doing things and coming first with a lot of innovations is a further demonstration that MTN has come to stay”.

5G is the fifth generation of cellular network technology. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has defined three main uses for 5G. They are Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), Ultra Reliable Low Latency Communications (URLLC), and Massive Machine Type Communications (mMTC)

#Newsworthy…