MTN Group has disclosed plans to increase substantially its capital spending in Nigeria in the new fiscal year till 2017 after agreeing to settle a $1.7 billion fine in its biggest market.
The South African-owned telecommunications firm is to spend $726 million (N143 billion) (11 billion Rand) in upgrading its Nigeria’s network in the 2016 fiscal year.
The capital outlay, according to Bloomberg yesterday, more than doubles its initial capital spending target in the Nigerian market, a development coming five days after agreeing to pay a heavily-reduced penalty to settle a regulatory dispute with Nigeria for missing a deadline to deactivate more than five million unregistered SIM cards.
The investment plan in Nigeria is also substantially higher than its spending of nearly $327.82 million (N65.2 billion) last year. The firm is, however, yet to give a specific target for 2017.
MTN is the largest mobile phone operator in Nigeria with 57 million subscribers, 39 per cent market share and the country accounts for about a third of its group revenues.
According to information on a presentation on its website, MTN’s plan will see the roll-out of 3G network population coverage from 67.23 per cent to about 90 per cent.
The aggressive roll-out of fibre to six Nigerian cities by the end of 2016 will enable the connections.
The company also said it expected higher revenues in Nigeria supported by reconnecting subscribers and the introduction of new services in May.
It would be recalled that the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) had on October 20, 2015, imposed a fine of N1.04 trillion, later slashed to N780 billion on MTN for failure to disconnect 5.1 million improperly-registered lines on its network within the prescribed deadline.
MTN’s action was adjudged to have violated the country’s SIM registration regulations, and waned its enthusiasm in further capital investment, particularly to upgrade its network.
By the new announcement, analysts, however, said the telecommunications company has bounced back in deepening its biggest market following 68.3 per cent reduction in its N1.04 trillion fine.
In April, this year, MTN said its investment profile in Nigeria had further risen by 23 per cent from $13 billion to $16 billion (over N3 trillion) in the last two years.
The investment represents about half of the total assets in the nation’s telecoms industry, which currently stands at over $32 billion as at mid-2013, according to data from the NCC.
In a document released recently, MTN Executive, Amina Oyagbola, was quoted as saying: “In Nigeria, the revolution in the ICT sector has provided well over $32 billion in foreign direct investment over the last 15 years. As part of that ICT ecosystem and guided by our recognition of the boundless potential of our great nation within the digital economy, MTN has invested over $16 billion (over N3 trillion) to date in fixed assets and facilities nationwide to build the most expansive network in the country.”
Oyagbola said that Nigeria’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) continues to attract foreign investments and unleash further world of opportunities for the economy.
She said such investments in infrastructure, as has been made by MTN, have created an ICT backbone that powers various critical sectors of the economy such as banking, e-commerce, insurance, oil and gas.