Nigeria, South Africa to resolve $5b MTN fine, Nigeria’s seized $15m

Ben Adam Shemang, Abuja

Nigeria is currently playing host to the President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, in a visit many Nigerians see as a means to correct many wrongs between Nigeria and South Africa.

The talks between President Muhammadu Buhari and Jacob Zuma are mostly based on economic issues between the economic giants of the African continent.

Nigeria is the best economy in Africa followed by South Africa.

The South African leader says so far, the relationship between the two countries is yielding expected results “Prior to1999 there were only four South African companies doing business in Nigeria. Since 1999 the situation has changed dramatically over 120 companies are currently doing business in Nigeria in various sectors mainly telecommunication, banking, retailing, entertainment and property. We welcome this significant development. We also see great potentials in boosting tourism between the two countries. According to statistics, on the average 4,000 Nigerians travelled to South Africa on a monthly basis in 2015”

In terms of trade, South Africa has a lot of advantages over Nigeria especially in agriculture. The Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari knows this very well “we have realised the trouble we are in and we articulated three fundamental issues – security, economy and corruption. We have identified the role we can, to improve rapidly our relationship with South Africa in terms of the economy. We identified agriculture and solid minerals development to come to the fore quickly so that we can use the able bodied unemployed. And South Africa is far ahead of us in agriculture and solid minerals development, so in diversifying the economy, this is going to be exploited”  

No doubt, this visit tries to amend relationship between the two countries.

Before now, the two countries never had it easy especially with the last government in Nigeria.

At the peak of the fight against boko haram, Nigerian officials smuggled over 15 million dollars into South Africa to purchase arms to fight boko haram, a deadly militant group that has killed over ten thousand people.

The South African authorities seized the money and up till now, it has not given back that money to Nigeria.

President Zuma says some issues still needed to be worked out before the money could be returned as he assured his host and Nigerians in general.

The next issue that is key to this visit is the fact that Nigeria has slammed a fine of over 5 billion dollars on South Africa’s telecommunications giant, MTN.

During the fight against boko haram, Nigeria banned GSM companies from selling pre-registered or non registered GSM numbers to customers.

MTN did not heed to the agreement and sold these unregistered lines.

Security operatives had confirmed that boko haram was using the unregistered lines to carry out coordinated attacks.

For the first time, President Buhari had to comment on this fine the unregistered SIM are being used by terrorists and between 2009 today, at least 10,000 Nigerians were killed by boko haram. That is why NCC asked MTN and GLO and the rest of them to register SIM. Unfortunately MTN was very slow and contributed to the casualty”.

President Buhari said the issue would have been resolved before now, but that MTN took NCC to court. All the same, he assured his visiting counterpart that the matter would soon come to an end.