The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has issued fines totalling NGN1.17 billion (USD7.3 million) to four of the country’s GSM operators for failure to meet service quality targets set by the regulator. Local newspaper This Day reports that South Africa’s MTN and UAE-based Etisalat will be required to pay NGN360 million each, while Airtel, which is owned by Indian telco Bharti Airtel, and Globacom have been fined NGN270 million and NGN180 million, respectively. The quartet are required to pay the penalties on or before 21 May 2012 or face payment of an additional NGN2.5 million per day for as long as the contravention continues. For its part, Etisalat has said that as well as capacity restraints, a lack of reliable electricity and sabotage were to blame for poor service quality, news agency Reuters cites an emailed company statement as saying. Etisalat Nigeria’s chief executive Steven Evans said that the cellco plans to invest more than USD500 million in expansion of its network capabilities and capacity this year.
Poor service quality is a persistent problem in Nigeria, Africa’s largest mobile market by subscribers, as rapid subscriber growth in recent years has, at times, outstripped operators’ ability to keep up with necessary infrastructure expansion. In October last year the NCC threatened to fine MTN, Globacom and Airtel and bar the further sale of SIM cards if they failed to improve the quality of their services.