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MTN acquisition shows commitment to Nigeria

MTN's acquisition of Visafone in Nigeria is in line with its plan to maximise data capabilities and achieve broadband of international quality.

MTN's acquisition of Visafone in Nigeria is in line with its plan to maximise data capabilities and achieve broadband of international quality.

MTN has confirmed the acquisition of Nigerian mobile network operator, Visafone Communications, for an undisclosed sum.

"The acquisition of Visafone highlights MTN's commitment to Nigeria," says MTN executive Amina Oyagbola.

Oyagbola notes the acquisition, which seeks to leverage resources for service enhancement, will aid in the increasing data needs of Nigerian customers.

"As we work to maximise our data capabilities towards achieving broadband of international quality, our objective is to ensure that Nigerians experience a boost in the quality of broadband Internet services, translating to the much needed enhanced data speeds and value to enhance personal and business productivity," she says.

"Voice is still king. However, data is becoming increasingly important in our everyday lives, and our energies are focused on enhancing data and Internet services to the benefit of our customers and the country at large," says Oyagbola.

"[The acquisition] is also reflective of our concerted efforts to deepen the growth and roll-out of broadband services across the country in support of the National Broadband Plan for the benefit of Nigerians."

She says the completion of the deal, which has been on the cards for some time, shows MTN's commitment to Nigeria.

The South African-based telco's Nigerian business has had a tumultuous few months after being slapped by a mammoth $5.2 billion fine from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in October last year. The fine was later reduced to $3.9 billion, but MTN continues to contest the penalty and is currently proceeding with an action in the country's federal high court to fight the fine.

The hefty penalty was incurred for failing to disconnect 5.1 million unregistered sim cards on the MTN Nigeria network by the NCC's deadline. MTN also missed a new year's eve deadline to pay the R62 billion fine.

Who is Visafone?

"Visafone is one of the leading CDMA/ICT companies in Nigeria, offering a number of services including voice, high speed data (3G), Internet and other value-added services (VAS). Visafone also provides business solutions to small and medium-sized companies and corporate organisations in Nigeria," according to MTN's acquisition statement.

Visafone was founded by Nigerian millionaire and Zenith Bank founder Jim Ovia back in 2007. The company was born out of the strategic acquisition of three CDMA (code division multiple access) mobile network operators. Ovia was listed as Africa's 37th richest person on Forbes' 2015 Africa's 50 Richest list, with an estimated net worth of around $550 million.

According to NCC statistics, Visafone only has around two million subscribers in the country, compared to MTN's close to 62.5 million subscribers.


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