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MTN Benin under investigation over outstanding US$213m frequency fees

MTN Benin under investigation over outstanding US3m frequency fees

The MTN Group has issued a statement confirming that its operation in Benin has received notification from the local telecoms regulator (ARCEP) of a process to review reasons behind outstanding invoices on frequency fees for 2016 and 2017.

According to the statement, on 30 March 2017 the government issued invoices amounting to US$213 million for the period March 2016 to December 2017.

MTN Benin is reported to be contesting the amount and argues that it is excessive, citing an independent benchmark report commissioned in terms of MTN Benin's license.

"Whilst the license agreement prescribes the calculation methodology for frequency fees it also provides that fees should take into account regional benchmarks, international practices and the local economy," reads the statement.

"We will continue to engage with the regulatory authorities in Benin to find an amicable solution to this matter," the company adds.

The operator's Benin business forms part of the WECA region.

According to its quarterly update for the period ended 30 September 2017, SIM registration and regulatory requirements impacted on its group subscriber total, and it experienced a 0.7% quarter-on-quarter decline to 230,2 million.

As part of the results, the company also made reference to its Cameroon operation receiving a sanction from the Republic of Cameroon Telecommunications Regulatory Board for alleged non-compliance with spectrum and subscriber registration regulations.

"The penalty was equivalent to approximately USD 6.6 million and a one year reduction in its licence term (which extends to 2030). MTN is engaging with the regulator and the highest authorities of Cameroon on this matter," MTN stated.

MTN Group President and CEO Rob Shuter said, "In line with our strategic initiative to drive a dual-data strategy, we are working on reducing the out-of-bundle data pricing across our markets to stimulate data usage from inactive and low usage customers. This is expected to have a short-term impact on data revenue growth but we anticipate elasticity in the mass and high value segments will continue to drive data revenue growth in the medium-term."

"We remain on track to meet our financial year 2017 guidance despite continued challenging economic growth across our markets."

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