In a bid to shore up its foothold in the West African sub region, Africa’s biggest mobile phone operator, South Africa’s MTN Group said it has paid $196 million in total for operating licences in Ghana and Ivory Coast.
MTN in a statement issued yesterday said it paid 75 billion CFA francs ($124 million) to extend its operating licence in Ivory Coast, where it provides services to more than a third of the country’s population of about 25 million.
MTN also said it would pay $67.5 million to Ghanian telecoms authorities to buy a 15-year radio frequency spectrum that would enable it to roll out high-speed networks to meet surging demand for data as consumers use their devices to browse the Internet and stream videos.
“The National Communications Authority of Ghana will award the licence and spectrum to MTN Ghana once the licence fee has been paid,” MTN said in a statement issued via the JSE’s stock exchange news service.
However, MTN Ghana is required to have a minimum of 35% Ghanaian ownership in place within 13 months from the effective date of the licence being awarded.
“As a group which owes its founding and growth to the emerging world, MTN is committed to the growth of local economies and development of communities where it operates. Consequently, MTN is exploring various options to comply with the eligibility criteria.
“The award of this licence will enable MTN Ghana to launch 4G/LTE services to support the increasing demand of data services and improve customers’ data usage experience,” it said.
MTN Ghana surpassed 15m subscribers at the end of the third quarter of 2015, while data revenue increased by 78.6% year on year for the nine-month period ended 30 September 2015, contributing 28.7% to total revenue.
Previously, MTN Ghana was only able to provide 2G and 3G services (voice and data) to its customers using 900MHz, 1.8GHz and 2,1GHz spectrum, which cannot be extended for 4G/LTE technology due to licence restrictions, the group said.
In the financial year ended 31 December 2014, MTN Ghana reported R2,7bn in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) on revenues of R7.1bn.
Meanwhile, in Côte d’Ivoire, MTN has made partial payment of 75% for a new unified telecommunications licence. The total licence fee is CFA100bn, or R2.5bn.
“By paying 75%, which is above the required 50% minimum, MTN Côte D’Ivoire obtains the extension of the operating term of the unified license for 17 years, for commissioning all services and products associated with 2G/3G/4G/LTE and upcoming new technologies,” the group said in a media statement.
In the 2014 financial year, MTN Côte D’Ivoire generated R2.5bn in Ebitda on revenues of R6.4bn.
It would be recalled that MTN Group, was fined $5.2 billion by the Nigerian authorities for infractions which was later cut to $3.4 billion and subsequently raised to $3.9 billion with a payment date of December 31, 2015.

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