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MTN commits $1.5B Nigerian investment

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MTN has pledged to invest 640 billion naira (US$1.5 billion) over the next three years to expand broadband access in Nigeria.

"Nigeria is one of our most important markets. We have a proud history of partnering with Nigeria and Nigerians to drive faster and more inclusive growth through digital transformation," said MTN Group President and CEO Ralph Mupita in a statement after a three-day visit to Abuja and Lagos where he and his team met with a number of high-profile Nigerians, including the country's President Muhammadu Buhari.

MTN said it continues to support the federal government's National Broadband Plan to secure 90% broadband population coverage by 2025.

"To mark the 20th anniversary of MTN's operations in Nigeria, MTN Nigeria plans to build a new flagship headquarters in Lagos," added Mupita.

MTN Nigeria increased its service revenue by 17.2% year-on-year to 385.2 billion naira ($942 million) for the first quarter of 2021, supported by the growth of 42.6% in data revenue and 8% in voice revenue.

MTN had 71.5 million customers in Nigeria at the end of March 2021, after losing 5 million mobile subscribers in the first quarter of 2021 due to regulatory restrictions on new SIM sales and activations because of a new SIM registration process in the country.

MTN also welcomed Nigeria's plans to auction 500MHz of 5G spectrum, consisting of five blocks of 100MHz in the 3500MHz band, which Mupita said would facilitate accelerated broadband access.

In March, MTN acquired additional 10MHz spectrum in the 800MHz band from Intercellular Nigeria which it said would also help with deepening broadband penetration in the country.

At the time, MTN Nigeria said its data traffic rose by 126.5% during 2020.

Mupita said the Group's plans to sell down 14% of MTN Nigeria to local investors were well advanced and this would happen as soon as conditions were conducive. At the time, MTN Nigeria said its data traffic rose by 126.5% during 2020.

MTN Nigeria, in which MTN Group has a 78.8% stake, wants to have the largest retail shareholder base on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, where it has a market capitalization of 3.4 trillion naira ($8.2 billion).

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*Top image is of MTN Group CEO Ralph Mupita (Source: MTN).

— Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa

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