MTN announces peace with Nigeria and agrees $1.6bn investment

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MTN, the South African telecoms group has said it will invest $1.6 billion in Nigeria days after Nigeria backed down on a $2 billion tax demand.

In a meeting with the president of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari, a team of four top executives from MTN group and MTN Nigeria said they will invest the money over the next three years.

“MTN announced a capital investment programme of $1.6 billion over the next three years to strengthen and expand its network and operations in the country,” said the company in a statement after the meeting.
Nigeria’s President said, “that the Federal Government of Nigeria is committed to providing an enabling environment for businesses to succeed”.

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MTN hopes that the peace pact will mark the end of four years of disputes with Nigeria, which at one time was threatening a fine of $5.2 billion, cut to an agreed $3.9 billion and then by another 25%, for continuing services to unregistered SIM cards.

The Nigerian Central Bank said MTN had used capital importation certificates which were irregular in 2018 and told the telecom company to repatriate $8.1 billion which was reduced to $53 million a year ago to settle the dispute.

Two weeks ago Nigeria dropped a $2 billion tax demand on MTN for allegedly having unpaid taxes dating from 2007 to 2017.

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MTN group chairman Mcebisi Jonas said: “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. We are fully aligned with the strategic agenda of the Nigerian government and are committed to strengthening the digital economy of the country.”

Group CEO Rob Shuter said: “Financial inclusion and access to funding and digital services all become easier when our continent is powered by connectivity. The benefits of a connected continent are far-reaching, making a positive impact across Africa. We cannot achieve this goal on our own, and are working on strengthening relationships with our key partners to extend access to comprehensive and affordable solutions to all.”

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