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MTN’s top execs descend on Nigeria amid insecurity concerns

By Chris Tredger, ITWeb Africa editor.
Johannesburg, 18 Jun 2021
MTN Group president and chief executive officer Ralph Mupita.
MTN Group president and chief executive officer Ralph Mupita.

A delegation of C-level MTN Group executives has arrived in Nigeria on a three-day working visit, as the market continues to be impacted by security concerns, including kidnapping, robbery and insurgency.

According to a statement from the company, MTN Group CEO, Ralph Mupita, and group CFO, Tsholofelo Molefe, are scheduled to meet with MTN Nigeria chairman, Dr Ernest Ndukwe and MTN Nigeria CEO, Karl Toriola, along with select partners and key stakeholders in the country.

This is Mupita’s first working visit to Nigeria since assuming office in 2020.

Nigeria is a key market for MTN. According to recent figures released by the Nigerian Communications Commission, the operator has over 82 million subscribers in the West African country.

Mupita says: “Nigeria is one of our most important markets. We have a proud history of partnering with Nigeria and Nigerians to drive faster and more inclusive growth through digital transformation, and I look forward to this opportunity for in-person engagements with our key stakeholders to discuss the future and deepen the relationships we have built over time.”

Ndukwe adds: “This visit demonstrates MTN’s continued commitment to supporting the socio-economic development of Africa’s largest economy. We look forward to hosting the group leadership and working with them and our other partners across the ecosystem towards delivering world class services.”

While the operator is keen to emphasise MTN Nigeria’s pending 20th anniversary of operation, according to Ndukwe, the visit will result in activities that will have far-reaching positive impact, as the company was recently reported to be the first to acknowledge possible disruption to its services as a result of insecurity.

ITWeb Africa reported this week that persistent reports of kidnapping, robbery, farmer-herders clashes and insurgency in parts of the country has exacerbated the impact of COVID-19 on the economy.

According to the World Bank’s latest Nigeria Development Update report released on 15 June, the Nigerian economy shrank by 1.8% in 2020 due to the global pandemic to see its deepest decline since 1983.

In early May, MTN Nigeria presented its unaudited results for the quarter ended 31 March 2021 and said despite a reduction in its overall subscriber base in Q1 and marginal decline in active data subscribers by 71 000 to 32.5-million, data traffic is up with a 48.5% increase in usage (MB per user) and the company is confident it is gaining momentum within the NIN/ SIM registration process.

Toriola said at the time: “Operationally, service revenue in Q1 grew by 17.2% YoY, in line with our medium-term target, supported by growth of 42.6% and 8% in data and voice revenue respectively. This was achieved despite the impact of the pandemic and a decline in our subscriber base due to the effects of customer churn and the restrictions on new SIM sales and activations arising from changes in SIM registration regulations.”