The Nigerian Communications Commission has cut a fine imposed on MTN Group by more than a third to $3.4 billion and gave the South African mobile phone operator until the end of the year to pay it, the company said on Thursday.
The NCC handed Africa’s biggest mobile phone company the penalty in October after MTN failed to cut off users with unregistered SIM cards from its network, Reuters reported.
Nigeria, MTN’s biggest market, has been pushing telecoms firms to verify the identity of subscribers amid worries unregistered SIM cards were being used for criminal activity in a country facing insurgency from the Boko Haram sect.
The fine, originally $5.2 billion, prompted MTN to hold talks with the NCC over the past five weeks seeking a reduction.
“After further engagements with the Nigerian authorities, the NCC has reduced the imposed fine,” Reuters quoted MTN as saying in a statement.
The company, which makes about 37 percent of its sales from Nigeria, said it was considering the NCC’s decision.
“Executive Chairman, Phuthuma Nhleko will immediately and urgently re-engage with the Nigerian authorities before responding formally,” it said.
Nhleko, who took charge for up to six months after the abrupt resignation last month of Sifiso Dabengwa, led the company for nine years before stepping down in 2011.