09 Nov

Daily Watch – MTN escapes Senate censure, Tizeti to ramp up Express Wi-Fi by Facebook

  • The Senate approved on Wednesday a report largely exonerating South African telecoms company MTN Group’s Nigerian unit after the business was accused of illegally repatriating $14 billion to its parent. But the Senate report also asked the CBN to sanction Stanbic IBTC Bank “for improper documentation in respect of capital repatriation and loan repayments” on behalf of MTN. The upper house agreed in September last year to investigate whether Africa’s biggest telecoms firm unlawfully repatriated $13.92 billion from Nigeria – its most lucrative market which generates a third of its revenue – between 2006 and 2016. An MTN spokesman said: “We welcome the report. We will study it in more detail. As we’ve placed on record previously, we have always insisted that our actions have been compliant with the law in this regard.” In July the Senate had rejected an earlier version of the report, asking for further work to be undertaken.
  • Nigeria’s bonds were flat on Wednesday, shrugging off a downgrade by Moody‘s since investors had already factored in issues that triggered the rating change and were buying debt at a discount to book profits, traders said. Ratings agency Moody’s cut Nigeria’s long-term foreign-currency bond to B1 from Ba3 and kept its outlook stable, saying Nigerian efforts to broaden non-oil revenue had been unsuccessful. The local-currency rating was unchanged at Ba1. Nigeria’s government balance sheet remains exposed to financial shocks, with interest payments high relative to revenues and deficits elevated despite cuts in capital spending, Moody’s said. Nigeria now has ₦19.63 trillion ($62.42 billion) in local bonds and $64.2 billion in foreign loans as of June 30, according to the debt office.
  • President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday said his administration was saving about ₦4.7 billion monthly through the full implementation of its policy on the Treasury Single Account. He said over 20,000 bank accounts belonging to the Federal Government had so far been consolidated into one. Buhari disclosed this while declaring open the 2017 e-Nigeria Conference organised by the National Information Technology Development Agency held at the International Conference Centre, Abuja. The President said his administration also leveraged on Information Communication Technology to introduce the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System and Bank Verification Number, helping to eliminate ‘ghost’ workers on the government’s payroll.
  • A massive staff shakeup has occurred in the insurance industry regulator, the National Insurance Commission. While some staff, including management staff where redeployed, others were transferred to new desks. A statement by Rasaaq Salami, the commission’s head of corporate affair indicated that most of the management staff have taken new portfolios. The statement further stated that a total of 23 other staffs of the rank of Assistant Director and below have also been redeployed with immediate effect.
  • Tizeti announced a partnership to expand Express Wi-Fi by Facebook in Nigeria on Wednesday, with plans to roll out hundreds of hotspots over the coming months. Announced at AfricaCom 2017, Express Wi-Fi in Nigeria is a fast and affordable public wi-fi hotspot service which is focused on areas where people gather and work, including markets, cafes and public outdoor spaces. Using affordable internet through Tizeti’s wi-fi technology, anyone with a wi-fi capable device and the ability to receive a one-time SMS will be able to use Express Wi-Fi without switching SIM cards or having a data plan. People can connect through Express Wi-Fi on most Android and iOS phones, tablets, and laptops.