Alleged anti-trust practices: MTN seeks talks with NCC


MTN_logoA report published Monday by the Bloomberg news agency has indicated that MTN Group Ltd. (MTN), Africa’s biggest mobile-phone company, will seek talks with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) over the regulator’s recent report which criticized its market leadership and pricing policy in Nigeria.

On April 25, the NCC published a report on its website to the effect that MTN Nigeria Communications Ltd., a unit of Johannesburg- based MTN, has become “dominant” in the country with a 44 percent market share of the mobile voice market.

According to the commission, calls between MTN customers cost a third of the price of calls to other networks and amounted to “a calling club” for MTN users. The regulator added that MTN must reform its mobile tariff policy and will face further scrutiny to ensure the competitive landscape is fair for all Nigeria’s operators.

However, in an interview with Bloomberg on May 2 in his office in Lagos, MTN Nigeria Chief Executive Officer Brett Goschen, said “At no time have we dropped prices to below the market, we’ve always followed the market.

“There’s a lot of competition and that’s what we need to discuss: how they’ve arrived at the conclusion the market isn’t competitive.”

The NCC isn’t specific on whether MTN needs to raise or cut its tariffs and hasn’t said the company has abused its market position, Goschen said. Prices across Nigeria’s mobile-phone operators have dropped 50 percent over the past year, showing that the market is competitive, he said.

Nigeria, with a population of more than 160 million, had about 109 million mobile phone subscribers at the end of 2012, according to the NCC. MTN Nigeria was the market leader with 47.4 million customers, Nigeria’s Globacom Ltd. had 24.1 million, Mumbai-based Bharti Airtel (BHARTI) had 23.1 million, and Abu Dhabi-based Emirates Telecommunications Corp. (ETISALAT), known as Etisalat, had 14.9 million, according to data on the NCC’s website.

Goschen expects a meeting to take place between MTN and senior NCC officials during the week starting May 13.

“We are engaging with them,” he said. “We’ll have a meeting and clarify some of these issues.”

MTN Nigeria is “confident” it will hit its target of adding 7 million subscribers by the year end and “there may be some upside” after 3.9 million new customers joined the network in the first quarter of this year, Goschen said.



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