By Technology Times Staff Reporter
Lagos. April 28, 2013: South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma has sought the intervention of President Goodluck Jonathan in lifting the telecoms promotion ban imposed on MTN Nigeria, the leading mobile phone company owned by MTN Group of South Africa.
MTN Nigeria was excluded when the Nigerian telecoms regulator recently lifted the ban imposed last year on seven of the nation’s leading phone companies from undertaking trade promotions citing service quality issues on their network.
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) had in November last year banned MTN Nigeria, Globacom, Airtel Nigeria, Etisalat Nigeria, Intercellular, Visafone and MultiLinks over allegations of falling below service quality benchmarks set by the telecoms watchdog.
A senior government source told Technology Times anonymously that the South African President used the opportunity of a one-day working visit to Nigeria to prevail upon his Nigerian counterpart to look into the case of MTN Nigeria with the NCC.
MTN Nigeria continues to face a sole ban from the telecoms watchdog in a market counting over 110 active phone lines where it is not only the number one by subscriber numbers but also controls over 40 per cent share of the lucrative mobile telephony market.
Both leaders held a closed-door meeting during Zuma’s visit to Abuja, the nation’s seat of power where the South African leader took up the case with Jonathan, people conversant with the situation say.
Unless there is a last minute change of mind, the promotions ban imposed on MTN Nigeria may be lifted soon by the NCC following the meeting between the two leaders.
Addressing journalists after the Abuja meeting, Zuma was later to say that they held consultations on matters relating to both countries, security on the continent and the proposed state visit by Jonathan to South Africa.
Telecoms industry insiders say they expect NCC may lift the ban on MTN Nigeria after it was left out in a recent announcement by the regulator that it has lifted the ban on rival GSM networks, Globacom, Airtel Nigeria and Etisalat Nigeria, after they have satisfied regulatory benchmarks for quality of service delivered to their subscribers.
In moving against the affected telecoms companies, the regulator warned the telecoms operators against running lotteries and promotions.
Tony Ojobo, the Director, Public Affairs of NCC says the ban covered approved promotions and lotteries in which the NCC signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC).
NCC says it has lately been inundated with several complaints from consumers and stakeholders against the various promotions offered by the operators warning that the ban continue until such a time as might be determined by the watchdog.
The regulator says that the promotions had increased the number of minutes available to subscribers for use within a limited period of time and was creating congestion on the networks.
According to NCC, on-net calls were now being offered by operators at tariffs well below the prevailing interconnect rates, a development that introduced anti-competitive practices and behaviour.
The telecoms market watchdog says that phone subscribers were being short-changed as the termination of calls was becoming difficult between networks and making it extremely hard for subscribers to make calls successfully.