A general view shows the MTN head office in Lagos, Nigeria, on October 29, 2018. File photo: REUTERS/AFOLABI SOTUNDE
A general view shows the MTN head office in Lagos, Nigeria, on October 29, 2018. File photo: REUTERS/AFOLABI SOTUNDE

Africa’s largest mobile operator, MTN, has said it will invest $1.6bn (R23.46bn) in Nigeria over the next three years to expand its network and operations. 

MTN has experienced some good fortune in the West African state after years of battling with authorities. 

Earlier in January, the attorney-general of Nigeria withdrew a $2bn (R28.54bn) tax demand against MTN Nigeria. The attorney-general had slapped MTN with the bill for backdated taxes in September 2018 but the company argued that the claim was without merit and was outside the authority’s jurisdiction.

In December 2018, the company resolved an $8.1bn fine related to repatriated dividends, and it was reduced to $53m. In a separate matter, MTN negotiated down a $5bn fine related to unregistered SIM cards.

The news of the investment was shared during a statement by President Muhammadu Buhari, whereby he reaffirmed that the Nigerian government is committed to providing an enabling environment for businesses.

A delegation of leaders from MTN, including group chair Mcebisi Jonas and group CEO Rob Shuter, recently met with the Nigerian head of state, together with a number of other leaders from the country. 

Buhari went on to say that the government is also looking at ways to increase security across critical national infrastructure, noting that it would guarantee seamless service delivery and facilitate investments throughout the country.

“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,” Jonas said in a statement. “We are fully aligned with the strategic agenda of the Nigerian government and are committed to strengthening the digital economy of the country.”

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.”

gavazam@businesslive.co.za

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