MTN Customers Warned Of Likely Service Disruption Over Insecurity

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June 16, (THEWILL)- Subscribers of MTN, the largest telecom provider in Nigeria, may soon face service disruption due to rising insecurity across the country, the local unit of South Africa’s telecoms group (MTNJ.J) has warned.

“Sadly, we must inform you that with the rising insecurity in different parts of Nigeria, service delivery to your organization may be impacted in the coming days. This means that in some cases, our technical support team may not be able to get to your site and achieve optimum turnaround time in fault management as quickly as possible,” MTN wrote in a message to customers seen by Reuters.

MTN is the first company to acknowledge a possible disruption to its services due to rising insecurity in Nigeria.

Nigeria faces increased insecurity across the country, ranging from mass abductions at schools, kidnappings for ransom, armed conflict between herdsmen and farmers, armed robberies, armed banditry and various insurgencies that have hindered economic growth and job creation.

The World Bank has also said that growth in Nigeria resumed in the fourth quarter after a COVID-19 induced recession, which left the rest of sub-Saharan Africa with food inflation, heightened insecurity and stalled reforms, slowing the economy and increasing poverty.

Nigeria is MTN’s most lucrative market out of the 22 countries the company operates in across Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

MTN runs Nigeria’s largest mobile phone network which generates around a third of the company’s revenue.

When MTN Nigeria published its financial report for Q1 2021, it showed strong growth as data revenue grew by 43 percent year-on-year to N106 billion ($257 million), contributing to 28 percent of its total revenue.

Data revenue growth was propelled by a 21 percent year-on-year jump in active data subscribers to 32.5 million and a 27 percent year-on-year increase in smartphone penetration to 36.3 million. These numbers reflect MTN’s dominance in Nigeria. Per data from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the telecom operator is responsible for 43 percent of Nigeria’s internet subscribers and 38 percent of the country’s mobile subscribers.

Like most network providers in the country, MTN’s services have been a tale of two experiences: good and bad. According to a TechCrunch agent, a recent government decision suspending the operations of Twitter in the country has heightened fears of subsequent internet restriction.

When contacted for reaction, MTN Nigeria said it was not aware of the notification by MTN South Africa on possible service disruptions in Nigeria.

Several MTN customer care agents TechCrunch reached out to were either unaware or refuted the message.

“We’re not going to have such network glitches,” one said.

“Kindly be aware that we don’t have any information on any service disruption in the coming days. Once we have any information about that, we’ll let our customers know via messages as soon as possible,” another agent responded.

Meanwhile, Private Telecommunications and Communications Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PTECSSAN), which comprises senior telecommunications staff in the country, announced that it would be embarking on a three-day industrial strike starting Wednesday to protest the “arbitrary sack of workers and casualisation.”

PTECSSAN accused telecommunications companies in Nigeria for breaching freedom of association and right of workers to organise; victimisation of union members; poor and discriminatory remuneration.

They also claimed that telecom operators abused expatriate quotas, practiced intimidation, and have harassed and verbally assaulted employees, among other anti-labour practices.