Picture: BLOOMBERG/GEORGE OSODI
Picture: BLOOMBERG/GEORGE OSODI

MTN, Africa’s largest telecommunications group, says it is committed to finding a way to resolve its dispute with Ghana’s telecoms authority, following the imposition of a 9.08-million Ghana cedis ($1.8m) fine for not providing a good-quality service.

Ghana’s National Communications Authority (NCA) accused MTN — as well as with Vodafone, AirtelTigo and Glo — of not providing a quality service to customers and fined them  altogether $7m last week. The NCA said they failed to meet a score threshold on “speech quality measurements” and had to pay up within 30 days.

MTN’s fine is the latest of the difficulties  the mobile operator has experienced with regulatory authorities in West Africa in recent years, which have weighed on its share price. MTN is down 34% since the start of 2018, lagging the FTSE/JSE all share index, which is down 13%, and rival Vodacom, down 14%.

Earlier in 2018, Nigerian authorities ordered it to pay an additional $2bn in taxes and accused it of illegally repatriating $8.13bn in dividends, ordering it to repay the money.

This followed a 2015 fine of $5.2bn, later reduced to $1.7bn, for not disconnecting unregistered SIM cards on its network in Nigeria.

The group was also fined $6.6m and had its 15-year operating licence reduced by a year in Cameroon by the Telecommunication Regulatory Agency for noncompliance with the regulation on subscriber identification and spectrum.

On the Ghana fine, MTN said  it would continue to engage the regulator and other stakeholders with a view to reaching  an "amicable resolution”.

It said it was “deeply concerned about this development, considering the continuous network investments and improvements made. In the current financial year alone, MTN Ghana has committed GH¢749m in capital expenditure.”

MTN Ghana CEO Selorm Adadevoh said the group would continue to invest in the network, but  that external factors  also affected the quality of service, according to News Ghana.

Besides the R1.9bn it invested in Ghana, MTN invested R4.6bn in capital expenditure over the past two financial years.

claasenl@businesslive.co.za