Telecoms giant, MTN Group has promised to invest $1.6 billion into strengthening networks and telecoms systems across the country. Chairman of MTN Group, Mcebisi Jonas said this during a visit to Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari.
“We are fully aligned with the strategic agenda of the government, and are committed to strengthening the digital economy of the country.”Chairman of MTN Group, Mcebisi Jonas
Recall that the telco has had a number of scruples with various agencies of the Nigerian government. The most recent of them is the $2 billion tax claim by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation. According to the claim, the telco had a catalog of unpaid taxes on foreign payments and other penalties.
18 months and several rounds of court battles later, the AGF withdrew the tax claim in January, and proceeded to let the FIRS and the Nigerian Customs settle the tax claim with MTN Nigeria.
Now, a couple of weeks later, MTN top executives have revealed that the telco is ready to invest $1.6 billion in the country’s networks and systems.
In his remark, President Buhari expressed his pleasure and promised improved security for telecoms infrastructure nationwide.
“Our hope is for operators like MTN to continue to focus on delivering quality service at reasonable prices,” president Buhari says. “If we put our minds together, such win-win positions are achievable.”
The president’s response, especially his reference to a ‘win-win position’, however raises some questions. Is this move by MTN part of a resolution of the situation between the telco and agencies of the Nigerian government?
No doubt, a lot of relationships and goodwill would have been damaged during the long-drawn debacle between MTN and the government. MTN needs to show a great deal of penitence to regain goodwill and what better peace offering than an investment offer close to the $2bn claim?
Perhaps in the coming months when the FIRS and Nigerian Customs give their conclusions on the AGF’s alleged tax claim on MTN, we will get our answers. But before then, we hope this move signals a renewed friendship and fresh start for both parties going forward.
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