MTN Ghana CEO, Selorm Adadevoh has said that naming MTN a significant market power (SMP) has become a source of worry for the company’s foreign investors in particular.
He was speaking with journalists and some industry stakeholders in their maiden virtual annual stakeholder forum in Accra.
MTN Ghana was in June this year declared an SMP owing to its huge subscriber and revenue market share, which the government puts at 75% over the last three years.
The National Telecommunications Policy of 2004, clearly states that the National Communications Authority (NCA) reserves the right to establish what constitutes an SMP, but where the NCA has not made any such determination, any player holding at least 40% market share will be deemed as an SMP.
This is stated on page 19 of the policy, under Significant Market Power, precisely paragraph three. Meanwhile, the least market share MTN has held since it entered the country is 45% plus.
Upon the declaration of MTN as SMP, therefore, the NCA went straight into motion to start implementing the Sections 20 (8 – 10) and 25 (2) of the Electronic Communications Act, Act 775, 2008 to “correct the imbalance” in the market.
The NCA issued MTN with notice of remedies it intends to implement, which included MTN eliminating the price differentials between on-net and off-net calls and also keeping its tariffs at a certain high, so that the other telcos can give lower tariffs and be competitive.
But MTN fingered the NCA for procedural breaches in naming it SMP and in implementing the remedies while discussion was still ongoing.
MTN therefore went to the Commercial Division of the High Court to seek judicial review but the court dismissed its case on grounds that it was not able to prove the NCA committed any illegality.
Following its failure at the High Court, MTN has now applied to highest court of the land, the Supreme Court, saying that its concerns still remain unaddressed and it believes the apex court will bring finality to the matter and set a precedent.
Selorm Adadevoh said MTN as a company is very much concerned about the SMP declaration because it makes the investors nervous, which is not good for the country.
“About 70% of our investors are foreigners and they have been calling us since this SMP declaration was made. Foreign investors usually go where there is stability so anything that signals a potential risk to their investment create problems for everybody,” he said.
He, however, added that “We have reassured our investors that we are pursuing all possible avenues to ensure that their investment is safe.”
The MTN Ghana boss said, while MTN seeks redress in the apex court, it is also engaging with the appropriate stakeholders with the hope that they will reach an amicable solution preferred by all parties.
“We are still talking to the key stakeholders on the matter and if we reach an amicable solution, we will opt for that than to keep pursuing the legal angle,” he said.
Corporate Services Executive for MTN Ghana, Sam Koranteng said it was a difficult decision for MTN to go to the courts with the SMP matter but they hope an amicable solution would be reached soon so that all stakeholders would pursue what is good for this country.
Year in review
Meanwhile, as MTN waits for either the Supreme Court ruling, or the results of engagement with the stakeholders, it continues to invest in network expansion to achieve its bold digital agenda as it marches towards its vision of becoming a digital operator by 2023.
In the year under review, MTN invested US$300 million into the network, mountain at least 2,000 4G/4G+ sites plus several thousands of 3G and 2G sites as well. The company has assured customers that in about a year, all of its sites will be 4G.
Its response to the COVID-19 pandemic has also been phenomenal, as it has given up to 150 terabytes of free data to some 4.5 million people during the pandemic, and continue to provide free data as more people access the over 200 zero-rated education sites.
Selorm Adadevoh said MTN Ghana has committed at least GHS100 million to the COVID-19 fight. They spend GHS29 million on workers, providing them with PPEs, shuttle buses, and welfare to those who needed.
A whooping GHS72 million was spent with the customer in mind – mainly network improvement and reliefs like zero-rating of websites and free mobile money transfers. Government got some GHS6 million in the form of PPEs, equipment and data access and digital platforms to work better.
TurboNet and Apps
Over the period, MTN also sold over 100,000 TurboNets and it run out of capacity in Accra so it had to put a hold on the sale of the device in the region, and some 2,700 homes were also connected to the Fiber to the home broadband platform, indicating a 39% increase over that of the previous year.
Meanwhile, some 1.3 million people downloaded the MTN Ayoba App in Ghana, and 2.3 million did so across Africa – similarly, some 1.6 million customers downloaded the MyMTN app, which they continue to use for activities on the MTN platform at no data cost.
Selorm Adadevoh assured customers that going forward, MTN would keep investing to achieve its digital operator status, where it will put the power in the hands of customers to perform their own activities on the MTN network remotely; something that have recently started by allowing people to create their own minimum KYC mobile money account remotely, by dialing *170# and following the prompts.