According to reports, MTN Nigeria failed to disconnect 5.1 million users with unregistered or improperly registered SIM cards by the NCC’s deadline, amounting to a fine of 200 000 naira per user.
The NCC requires that all SIM cards in Nigeria are registered using biometric identification including fingerprints and ID photos. This is to mitigate the use of anonymous cell phones in criminal activities and terrorist organisations. The process of registering all users in Nigeria however has dragged on for the last several years, with many users not being properly registered.
According to some reports, MTN was still in discussions with the NCC about the exact number of unregistered SIMs when the deadline was passed. As the issue was still being resolved they did not believe that they needed to take decisive action yet.
Nigeria is MTN’s biggest and most profitable market. Since the news of the fine MTN’s share price has taken a serious hit, falling by almost 20% reducing their market capitalisation by more than R60 billion.
Bloomberg has reported that top MTN executives have travelled to Nigeria to meet with the NCC and plan to review the senior management team in Nigeria.