By Shina Badaru
Lagos. June 4, 2012. MTN Group President and CEO, Sifiso Dabengwa is hopeful of a resolution within “the next few days” in the face-off between four sanctioned GSM network operators and the telecoms regulator over a N1.17billion service quality fine in Nigeria.
Dabengwa told Technology Times in an exclusive Friday in Lagos that talks are underway between both parties even as he underscores the South African mobile telephony operator and owners of MTN Nigeria’s demand that service quality benchmarks must reflect operating realities in the country.
The Nigerian Communications had on May 10, this year imposed sanctions on four companies, MTN Nigeria (N360m), a local subsidiary of MTN Group of South Africa; Etisalat Nigeria (N360m), a local subsidiary of Etisalat of UAE; Airtel Nigeria (N270m), the local operation of Bharti Airtel and Globacom (N180m), Nigeria’s Second National Operator who are to pay a total of N1.17billion for falling to attain key performance indicators (KPIs) set for service quality.
Operators have defied the May 25 deadline set in what has so far seen each of the four companies daily incurring a N2.5million penalty alongside their N1.17billlion.
The Group CEO, MTN Group told Technology Times that, “the standards that are set by the regulator must reflect the realities of the environment and it is not unilateral KPIs. It has to be KPIs that are in agreement with the industry because at the end of the day it is the industry that has to do the investments in order to be able to deliver the quality.”
Dabengwa reckons that, “the first thing that needed to be done is get measures that reflect the currently reality of operation in Nigeria. And it needs to make comparison with other countries, other environments that are similar. At this stage we are having problems understanding how some of the standards are expected to be reached. But we continue to talk with them.”
Asked if MTN plans to pull out of the quartet and pay the fine towards forging ahead with a resolution with NCC, Dabengwa says, “I really cannot comment on that. It is the CEO here that is dealing with that but like I said there is a consultation process and at the end of the day we will have to have standards that are relevant. Yes we would always be willing to be punished for not meeting standards that we believe reflect the environment we work in.”
Reminded by Technology Times that CEO of MTN Nigeria, Brett Goschen, reports to him as Group CEO of the mobile phone conglomerate and the final decision rests with him, Dabengwa says that, “we would finalise that in the next few days” adding that, “at the end of the day, we are working with the industry and it would be finalised shortly.”