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MTN Withdraws Case Against NCC, Pays N50bn Fine

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MTN on Wednesday withdrew its lawsuit against the Nigerian Communications Commission over N1.04tn ($5.2bn) fine and paid N50bn ($250m) towards a probable settlement.

But the Federal Government said the next line of action would be determined after verifying the MTN’s payment claim.

The telecommunications company said its decision was based on renewed steps towards a negotiated settlement and to create a good atmosphere for further negotiations.

Speaking on the issue, the MTN Nigeria Chief Executive Officer, Ferdi Moolman, said, “This is a most encouraging development. It demonstrates a willingness and sincerity by both parties to work together towards a positive outcome.”

He said the company had paid N50bn to the Federal Government, “as a gesture of good faith and commitment to continued efforts towards an amicable resolution.”

This came about two weeks after the Minister of Communication, Mr. Adebayo Shittu, had told journalists that the Federal Government could consider reducing the fine a second time should MTN show its readiness for amicable settlement by paying a substantial amount of the fine.

“We shall also be open to talks with them (MTN) if it also withdraws its case from court because you cannot say you are seeking for negotiation with the government when you still have a case in court against it,” the minister had said.

According to Punch, a judge in Lagos had in January given both parties up until March 18 to reach a resolution, after MTN had asked the court to arbitrate in the dispute, saying the NCC had no legal grounds to order the fine.

Speaking to our correspondent, the Managing Director of Africa Analysis at MTN, Dobek Pater, said the firm’s withdrawal of the case with a “good faith payment” of $250m (N50bn) was based on renewed steps towards an amicable settlement and to create a conducive atmosphere for further negotiations.

“This is a sign that the fine could be reduced much further. There is some sort of negotiation taking place and the parties are migrating towards a common ground.”

MTN makes 37 per cent of its sales in Nigeria.

Moolman also said, “Our industry in Nigeria is an incredibly important example of the remarkable progress in the Information and Communications Technology sector, particularly as a much-needed catalyst for socio-economic growth and development at this time.”

But the Special Assistant to the Minister of Communications, Mr. Victor Oluwadamidare, said in Abuja on Wednesday that the government had to verify the claim that the company had paid some money.

He said, “Let me say that I am not competent to speak for the Federal Government. You know the people that can speak for the Federal Government and for the Presidency. I can only speak for the minister and for the Ministry of Communications.”

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Canadian Government to Restrict Chinese Huawei, ZTE from its 5G Networks

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Canada has said it will ban two of China’s biggest telecom equipment makers from working on its 5G mobile-phone networks.

The Canadian Industry Minister, Francois-Philippe Champagne disclosed the restriction against Huawei and ZTE on Thursday. He said the move will improve Canada’s mobile internet services and “protect the safety and security of Canadians.”

“This is about providing a framework to protect our infrastructure. In a 5G world, at a time where we rely more and more in our daily lives [on] our network, this is the right decision,” Mr Champagne said while speaking to reporters in the Canadian capital of Ottawa. 

Investors King has it that this decision by Canada has been widely expected, as its allies had already barred Huawei and ZTE from their own high-speed networks.

This means that telecoms firms in the country will no longer be allowed to use equipment made by Huawei and ZTE.

“Companies that have already installed the equipment made by the Chinese manufacturers must now remove it,” Mr. Champagne added.

Four nations had already placed the same restriction on the companies. They include the United Kingdom, United States, Australia and New Zealand.

Canada with these other five countries make up an intelligence-sharing arrangement named ‘Five Eyes’ which evolved during the Cold War as a tool for monitoring the Soviet Union and sharing classified information

The Fifth Generation network is the next upgrade to mobile internet networks, offering much faster data download and upload speeds.

It also allows more devices to simultaneously access the internet. It comes as data usage is soaring, as the popularity of video and music streaming grows. This is pushing governments and mobile phone network operators to improve their telecommunications infrastructures.

Canada first announced a review of Huawei equipment in September 2018. The Chinese embassy in Ottawa, Huawei and ZTE did not immediately respond at the time of publication.

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Spanish Regulator Fines Google 10 Million Euros For Transferring Data to Third Parties Illegally

Another privacy regulator has imposed a fine on Google for illegal data practices

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A logo is pictured at Google's European Engineering Center in Zurich

Another privacy regulator has imposed a fine on Google for illegal data practices. The Spanish Data Protection Agency (AEPD) accused Google of transferring users’ data to third parties illegally and also hindering their right to erasure.

The privacy regulator slammed the leading search engine with a 10 million Euro fine, saying Google transferred information of citizens, including their identification, e-mail address, etc to third parties.

It should be recalled that in September 2020, the French data protection authority imposed a $57 million fine on Google, its highest penalty under the new law, for failing to disclose how its users’ data is processed. Later in the same year, the French regulator fined Google and Amazon €100 million ($120 million) and Amazon €35 million ($42 million) for using tracking cookies without users’ consent.

Earlier this year, Investors King reported that France’s National Commission on Informatics and Liberty fined both Google and Facebook another $170 million and $70 million, respectively for making it hard for citizens to refuse cookies.

In Google’s latest fine, the Spanish regulator said Google’s actions contravene Articles 6 and 17 entrenched in the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). 

In a statement announcing the fine, AEPD said: “Google LLC acted as controller of the analysed processing, which was conducted in the United States. In the case of disclosure of data to third parties, the AEPD has found that Google LLC sent information of requests made to it by citizens, including their identification, e-mail address, the reasons given, and the URL claimed to the Lumen Project. The task of this project is to collect and make available requests for the removal of content, and the Agency, therefore, considers that, since all the information contained in the citizen’s request is sent for inclusion in another publicly accessible database and for dissemination via a website, the purpose of exercising the right of erasure results in practice frustrated.

“This communication of data by Google LLC to the Lumen Project is imposed on the user who intends to use Google forms, without the option of objecting to it and, therefore, without a valid consent for such communication to be made. Establishing such a condition for the exercise of the right to erasure granted to data subjects is in breach of the General Data Protection Regulation by generating “an additional processing of the data contained in the request for erasure when communicating them to a third party,” the Agency added.

Responding to the fine, Google stated that it has started reviewing the fine and will continue to engage regulators on privacy and how to reassess its practices. 

“We’re always trying to strike a balance between privacy rights and our need to be transparent and accountable about our role in moderating content online. We have already started reevaluating and redesigning our data-sharing practices with Lumen in light of these proceedings”, Google noted.

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Data Infrastructure Will Attract Foreign Investments, MainOne Tells FG

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Chief Operating Officer of MDXI, MainOne’s Data Centre, Mr. Gbenga Adegbiji, has revealed that proper data infrastructure can attract foreign investments. 

Adegbiji, during an interview with ThisDay, said the federal government should revamp its policies and create basic infrastructure that promotes effective data centre operations in Nigeria in order to attract foreign investments in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector.

He said: “Investors do not invest based on what any government tells them, but they invest based on what they see, which has to do with growth indices and numbers. They look at the population report and the growth of the economy, including security of investments in the country, before they can invest in the country.

“Attracting foreign investments goes beyond what the Nigerian government is currently doing by merely visiting these investors in their countries to woo them to invest in Nigeria. They will surely come and invest if they see the need to invest in Nigeria, and a good example is the recent acquisition of MainOne by Equinix because MainOne has over the years, positioned its operations to a standard that is attractive to any foreign investor. 

“Investments are made based on numbers, foreseeable return on investments, and risk that is associated with a particular country”.

According to Adegbiji, for any willing investor to come to Nigeria to invest, there must be basic infrastructure on ground. Citing lack of adequate electricity supply, which is a basic infrastructure for data centre operation, Adegbiji said the lack of such basic infrastructure would make it difficult for investors to consider Nigeria as an investment destination. 

“Adequate and steady electricity supply is key to data centre operation because data centres consume a lot of electricity and any data centre operator will look at the stability of the electricity supply of a country, before venturing to invest in that country. If power is achieved, operators will be able to achieve up to 60 per cent of their operations in data centre business,” Adegbiji said. 

He, therefore, advised the government to revisit its policy on power and ensure stable supply of electricity for businesses, in order to attract investors into Nigeria’s technology space.

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