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MTN, Airtel Attract Most Regulatory Fines in Africa

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MTN
  • MTN, Airtel Attract Most Regulatory Fines in Africa – Report

The operations of MTN and Airtel have come under intense scrutiny, attracting the most fines from the governments of African countries, a recent study by Xalam Analaytics has shown.

The report entitled, ‘Another fine mess by African telecoms,’ stated that the value of fines imposed on MTN by African governments in the past three years was the highest, reaching about $400m, apart from the Nigerian fine of $5.2bn.

It, however, added that Airtel African operations had been the most targeted by regulatory procedures.

Xalam Analytics said, “Airtel’s African operations have been the most targeted by government procedures, slightly ahead of MTN’s. In terms of fine value, MTN is the largest target of African telco fines – even excluding the $5.2bn Nigeria fine.

“African governments had asked MTN operations to pay around $400m in various forms of sanctions and fees since 2014, an average of around $100m each year.”

In a study of the about 50 procedures of sanctions against telecoms operators across 20 African markets over the 2011 and 2017, Xalam Analytics found that the number of fine procedures had skyrocketed across the continent.

In 2017 alone, the survey showed that the number of fines imposed on operators tripled and an average of $350m per year regulatory fines and tax claims had been collected in the past two years, excluding the $5.2bn fine imposed by Nigeria on MTN in 2015.

The report, however, noted that not all fines were paid as some were challenged in the court.

In January this year alone, new fines were announced against telecoms operators in Mauritania and Kenya for violations in the quality of service and network coverage.

The report stated, “Between 2011 and 2015, 75 per cent of procedures were related to quality of service and network coverage violations; nearly 60 per cent of the fine value was tied to the QoS (excluding Nigeria’s $5.2bn fine).

“During the 2016 to 2017 period, the QoS accounted for about half of the procedures but less than 10 per cent of fine value, with unpaid taxes and fees driving most of the potential proceeds.”

It also said, “The telecoms boom has made the sector something of a cash-cow for African governments. Between licence, spectrum and a wide assortment of taxes and fees, telecoms operators have become some of the largest individual contributors to national budgets, accounting for between five per cent and 15 per cent of tax income.

“Lately, however, the cow has been sputtering: In the 10 markets with the largest telecoms fines over the past five years, top-line revenue growth has slowed, averaging three per cent to six per cent during the past three years in local currency terms, down from double-digits between 2010 and 2014. In the United States dollar terms, top-line revenue has contracted in many markets.”

The report noted that $5.2bn fine imposed on MTN Nigeria had encouraged other African regulators to take similar actions, in order not be seen as complicity with telecoms operators.

As such, Xalam Analytics said most regulators had rushed to acquire equipment to monitor the QoS as fines were now seen as a key feature of regulatory effectiveness.

The analysts warned that the pernicious cycle of telecoms fining was not sustainable as governments that saw fines as another way to milk the telecoms cow would merely drive more operators out of their markets.

The report stated, “The fine is a convenient and increasingly popular option, but it’s an ineffective fix for the issues it claims to resolve. Assuming they are truly interested in resolving the QoS issues, an option would be for regulators to increase the fines – but reallocate proceeds from fines to network expenditures in areas that need it the most.”

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

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Fintech

Flutterwave Celebrates Inclusion in CNBC’s Top 250 Global Fintechs

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Flutterwave has been recognized as one of the Top 250 Fintech companies globally by CNBC and Statista.

Joining the ranks of industry giants like Ali Pay, Klarna, Piggyvest, and Mastercard, this accolade underscores Flutterwave’s impact on the financial technology sector.

This honor follows Flutterwave’s recent inclusion in Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies list, highlighting the company’s pivotal role in transforming Africa’s payment landscape.

The recognition is a testament to Flutterwave’s dedication to innovation and excellence in providing seamless payment solutions across the continent.

Expressing gratitude, Flutterwave acknowledged its talented team, supportive board, reliable partners, and loyal customers for contributing to this success.

The company continues to drive progress in the fintech industry, reinforcing its commitment to enhancing financial accessibility and inclusion in Africa and beyond.

Flutterwave’s recognition on these prestigious lists marks a proud moment and a significant milestone in its journey, reflecting the company’s growing influence and leadership in the global fintech arena.

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Startups

Google Leads $250 Million Funding Round for Glance

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

Google is leading a $250 million funding round for Glance, a mobile content provider.

This infusion of capital aims to expand Glance’s reach and solidify its market position amidst growing competition.

Glance, a subsidiary of InMobi Group, offers a unique service that delivers news, entertainment, and other content directly to users’ mobile screens without unlocking their devices.

With a user base exceeding 300 million across India, the US, Japan, and Indonesia, the startup has gained significant traction since its inception in 2019.

The funding round, expected to close in the coming weeks, marks a continued partnership between Google and Glance.

Google initially invested in the company in 2020, and this latest round will further enhance Glance’s capabilities to innovate and reach new audiences.

This investment reflects Google’s strategic interest in India, the world’s most populous nation, where it competes with tech giants like Microsoft, Meta, and Amazon.

With India’s rapidly growing middle class and increasing smartphone adoption, the market presents vast opportunities for digital expansion.

The support from Google comes on the heels of a previous $200 million investment by Mukesh Ambani, Asia’s wealthiest individual, which valued Glance at over $1 billion.

The startup’s largest stakeholder, InMobi, continues to thrive as a pioneer in mobile advertising, with Glance benefiting from its expertise and resources.

As Glance prepares for this new phase of growth, it stands poised to redefine how content is consumed on mobile devices worldwide.

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Technology

Cyber Threats Surge as Nigeria’s Digital Economy Expands

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cybercrime - Investors King

As Nigeria’s digital economy flourishes, it faces escalating cyber threats, prompting the Federal Government to issue 33 cyberattack advisories in the past year.

These warnings, issued by the Nigeria Computer and Emergency Response Team (ngCERT), highlight the growing vulnerability of the nation’s digital infrastructure.

Since July 2023, ngCERT has alerted Nigerians to new attack methods and vulnerabilities. With 22 advisories issued in 2024 alone, the surge in cyberattacks coincides with the accelerated digitization spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Monthly internet usage in Nigeria soared from 125,149.86 terabytes in December 2019 to 753,388.77 terabytes in March 2024.

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) notes that increased digitalization has heightened cybersecurity risks, necessitating robust protective measures.

According to Check Point Research, Nigerian businesses face approximately 2,308 attacks weekly across all sectors.

The advisories reveal various cyber threats, including ransomware and banking trojans. A recent warning highlighted Grandoreiro, a malware targeting over 1,500 banks globally, affecting 41 banking applications in Nigeria alone.

These attacks aim to steal sensitive financial data, potentially causing significant financial losses.

Nigeria’s critical infrastructure is also under threat. In August, pro-Nigerien hackers attempted to disrupt MTN Nigeria’s network, although they were unsuccessful.

During the 2023 elections, the government recorded 12.99 million cyberattacks, underscoring the scale of the threat.

Cybercrime costs Nigeria about $500 million annually. This includes data damage, stolen money, lost productivity, and post-attack disruptions.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation ranked Nigeria as the 16th country worst affected by cybercrime in 2020.

Experts emphasize the need for stronger cybersecurity measures. Adesina Sodiya, a professor of Computer Science and Information Security, warns that cyberattacks will continue to grow in sophistication.

He stresses the importance of building a cybersecurity curriculum and involving experts in creating effective strategies.

In response, NITDA plans to reduce cyberattacks by 40% by 2027. “As we digitize, we must build with security in mind,” said Kashifu Inuwa, director-general of NITDA.

The agency aims to implement comprehensive strategies to protect Nigeria’s burgeoning digital economy.

As Nigeria’s digital economy expands, it must address the growing cyber threats that accompany this progress. By enhancing cybersecurity measures and fostering collaboration among stakeholders, Nigeria can safeguard its digital future.

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