Operator MTN Nigeria has been given permission by regulator the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to disconnect a number of value added service (VAS) providers that have not paid their interconnect debts.
According to Nigerian news service The Guardian, these debts run into hundreds of millions of naira (one naira = US$.002). The NCC list of companies liable include Polo Solutions Projects Limited; BreezeMicro Limited; Exchange Telecoms Limited; Information Connectivity Solutions Limited; Sleekchip Technologies Limited; Alpha Technologies Limited; and Western Microlink Communications Limited.
In accordance with NCC Guidelines on Procedure for Granting Approval to Disconnect Telecommunications Operators, the affected licensees had been notified of the application and allowed to respond.
However, a statement released by the NCC says: “The commission, having examined the application and circumstances surrounding the indebtedness, determined that the affected licensees do not have sufficient and or any justifiable reason for non-payment of the international interconnect charges and therefore decided to grant approval as requested.” Thus MTN will cease receiving international voice calls and data from the listed licensees.
This isn’t a new problem. In 2019, interconnect debt affecting the Nigerian telecommunications industry was put at about 165 billion naira (some US$358 million now but possibly closer to US$544 million at the time). MTN was owed about 45% of these debts, mainly by VAS providers, vendors and other operators.