Nigeria is becoming a nightmare for SA companies. Very few have succeeded there thus far, other than one shining example of African modern entrepreneurship: MTN. When the mobile company entered Nigeria, intracountry communications were sporadic, and extracountry communication comparatively rare. Like many other African countries, communication both within the country and outside of it went from barely existent to ubiquitous in one huge 20-year leap. It has been one of the grandest and fastest elevations in history. Yet MTN has now been victim to repeated shakedown efforts by local regulators and authorities on trumped-up charges transparently designed to fill shortfalls in the national coffers. It hadn’t yet finished paying a $1bn fine for not cancelling accounts with unregistered SIM cards when it was slapped this week with an $8.1bn fine for something that happened a decade ago, on top of a $2bn fine for alleged outstanding taxes.

Nigerian authorities claim that MTN is the a...

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