MTN Group has moved to reassure nervous investors that a crackdown by Nigerian authorities on unregistered phone lines will not have a huge adverse impact on its finances.
This comes after MTN shares tumbled 7.8% in Johannesburg on Tuesday as investors took fright by the decision by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to order mobile operators in the West African country to bar outgoing calls from phone numbers not linked to the national identity number (NIN) system. The move, Nigerian authorities said, was intended to fight a scourge of extortions and abductions.
MTN said its Nigerian subsidiary, which is listed in Lagos, has “made good progress” in registering Sim cards to the NIN system, with about 47 million subscribers having submitted their NINs by 31 March, representing about 67% of the base (and 76% of service revenue for the year ended 31 December 2021).
“Outgoing voice revenue from the current subscribers who have not submitted a NIN amounts to about 9% of MTN Nigeria’s total FY 2021 service revenue on an annualised basis,” the group said. “For MTN Group, this would amount to approximately 3% of FY 2021 service revenue on an annualised basis.”
MTN Nigeria received a formal directive from the NCC to implement a phased suspension of services to affected subscribers, placing them on “receive only” status with effect from 4 April.
“In line with operating licence requirements, MTN Nigeria has complied with the directive and implemented the restrictions on only outgoing voice calls of affected subscribers. All other services remain available to all subscribers, including those that are yet to submit their NINs,” it said.
“MTN Nigeria supports the work being done by the federal government of Nigeria to build a reliable and sustainable national identity management system, which is a critical enabler that will deliver multiple benefits to the telecommunications industry and Nigeria as a whole. It will aid national economic planning and enhance security, governance and service delivery at all levels.”
Meanwhile, in Ghana SIM registration deadline has been postponed from March 31 to July 31, 2022, following which there is expected to be a crackdown on all SIM cards that are not linked to the Ghana Card.
The whole process has been criticised as unconstitutional but the process is still ongoing and the stakeholders have put measures in place to facilitate the process and ensure that as many people are captured as possible.
At the last count, government said some 14.1 million SIM cards had been linked to Ghana Cards, while about 10.35 million bio-captures had also been conducted, with some 99,445 completely new SIM cards registered. Meanwhile, there were some 7.5 million persons yet to obtain Ghana Cards before they could even link to their SIM cards.