Nigeria’s communications commission said on Monday South African cellphone network operator MTN has paid $250 million towards a possible settlement following the regulator’s claim for $3.9 billion in fines for failing to disconnect unregistered SIM users in time.
It said in a statement negotiations to settle were continuing.
MTN had announced the downpayment last week.
A judge in Lagos gave both parties until March 18 to reach a settlement, after MTN had asked the court to arbitrate over the dispute, saying the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) had no legal grounds to order the fine.
MTN, which makes 37 per cent of its sales in Nigeria, said it would withdraw its court challenge in an effort to reach an amicable settlement and make a “good faith payment” of $250 million towards a possible settlement.
“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,” said Dobek Pater, managing director of Africa Analysis.
The original penalty was based on fining the company $1,000 for every unregistered SIM card in use.