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MTN Seeks Out-Of-Court Settlement With CBN over $8.1Bn Fine

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The legal tussle on the $8.1 billion fine imposed of MTN Nigeria and five banks in the country by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) may soon end, as MTN Nigeria has asked the Federal High Court in Lagos to further adjourn the hearing in the suit.

 

The $1.8 billion demand by the CBN followed alleged forex remittances infraction by MTN.

 

On Tuesday, MTN’s lead counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), told the court that his client had approached the CBN for possible amicable resolution of the dispute.

 

He urged Justice Saliu Saidu to further adjourn the suit to enable parties to fully explore out-of-court resolution and deliberate on the terms of the settlement.

 

The position was confirmed by CBN’s lead counsel, Mr Seyi Sowemimo (SAN), who added that the discussions for possible out-of-court settlement were in the advanced stage.

 

Consequently, Justice Saidu adjourned till December 12, 2018, for a report of the settlement between the parties.

 

MTN filed the suit, marked FHC/L/CS/1475/2018, in November, urged the court to the declaration that the CBN acted ultra vires its statutory powers when it wrote an August 28, 2018 letter to it demanding a refund of $8.1bn.

 

The firm urged the court to hold that the CBN’s $8.1bn demand was “illegal, oppressive, abusive, unauthorised and unconstitutional.

 

The telecommunications giant urged the court to declare that that “the 1st defendant’s decision in its letter of August 28, 2018 with Ref No GBD/GOV/COM/DGF/118/121 addressed to the plaintiff and titled, ‘Investigation into the remittance of foreign exchange on the basis of the illegal capital importation certificates issued to MTN Nigeria Communications Limited’ were reached in breach of the plaintiff’s right to fair hearing.”

 

It also urged the court to void a September 3, 2018 letter written to it by the 2nd defendant, the Attorney General of the Federation, demanding $8.1bn as “penalties for the offence of ‘infraction of forex remittances’.”

 

MTN sought a court order “restraining the 1st and 2nd defendants from giving effect to the decisions, demands, and directives in their letters of August 28, 2018, and September 3, 2018, respectively.”

 

However, the CBN, in its statement of defence and counter-claim, urged the court to dismiss MTN’s suit, insisting that the telecommunications giant must refund $8.1bn to the Federal Government.

 

The dispute over $8.1bn repatriated funds started when the CBN alleged that MTN used improperly issued certificates to transfer funds out of Nigeria after the telecom giant converted shareholder loans in its Nigerian unit to preference shares in 2007, but MTN denied the allegations.

 

The apex bank said MTN’s banks failed to verify that the telecom group had met all the country’s foreign exchange regulations.

Ugo Onwuaso is an ICT enthusiast. He believes technology should be used for general good. He holds a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from the Lagos state University.

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Ericsson to Showcase Music Connect at Mawazine Festival 2019

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Ericsson has announced its participation in the 18th edition of the Mawazine Festival, one of the world’s largest music events, taking place in Rabat, Morocco from June 21-29, 2019. Through a showcase of the future technology, Ericsson played Music Connect to exhibit how the future will look like with new innovations that are developed to create immersive experiences for audiences of such big events.

Music Connect enables musicians in different locations playing together in real time with harmony. It will enable more people to enjoy immersive performances than ever before.

The higher throughput connection and ultra-low latency enables musicians to practice and perform in real time and perfect synchronization, even when they are geographically apart. It will also allow musicians with disabilities to participate in musical events and receive or provide training without physically being present – transforming limitations into possibilities.

Music Connect highlights how connectivity can transform our interaction with arts, and the ways that 5G technology will revolutionize this industry – by providing a much more enhanced, enriching experience through connectivity across the globe.

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Titans of Tech Focuses on Local Content, Infrastructure Protection for Socio-Economic Growth

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Isa Pantanmi, NITDA DG
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THE 2019 edition of prestigious Titans of Tech Award will hold in Lagos, Friday, July 19, 2019 at the Oriental Hotels Victoria Island with a special Roundtable on the growing importance of digital infrastructure protection in the quest to further Socio-economic Growth.

 

Don Pedro Aganbi, managing consultant, Technology Africa, who made this known to newsmen in Lagos revealed that the theme of the Leadership Roundtable is “Cyber security, Local Content Development, Big Data & Infrastructure Protection – Catalyst for Economic Growth And National Development.”

 

According to Aganbi, “An industry data claimed that Nigeria might have ceded about 70 per cent of the country’s technology market to brands due to apathy for locally made products”. Local content according to him is defined as the amount of incremental value added or created in Nigeria through the utilisation of Nigerian human and material resources for the provision of goods and services in the ICT industry within acceptable quality and standards, to stimulate the development of indigenous capabilities.

 

Speaking further he said that the widespread deployment of digital and other communication infrastructure is creating an unprecedented increase in the volume of data. It is this deluge of digital data that is now popularly called ‘big data.”

 

He stated that “data is the lifeblood and an essential ingredient for accountability in the digital economy.”

 

Aganbi noted that as the economy got more connected the need to safeguard data, secure transactions and protect digital infrastructure grew exponentially.

 

He explained that more and more people agree that the connected economy is precipitated by the Internet and is rapidly changing the way we work, socialize, create and share information. Indeed, it is continuously changing the way we organize the flow of people, ideas, and things around the globe.

 

The infrastructure, he said, that makes this possible undoubtedly is a strategic economic growth driver; and a catalyst for socio economic development.

 

So naturally the protection of such infrastructure, particularly of rapidly growing digital infrastructure, is akin to ensuring the survival of the emerging digital society and sustaining economic growth, he revealed.

 

Aganbi made it known that several seasoned industry experts and leaders are expected to attend and participate in the seminal leadership round table session.

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AfDB Hosts Masterclass on Women’s Skills in Business Development

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The fourth Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA)/Entreprenarium masterclass began Monday in Pretoria, South Africa, aimed at improving women’s skills in business development and financial management.

40 business women, who came through an online application process, will attend the two-day masterclass, which will cover financial planning, lean start-up methodology and business model canvassing.

A mentoring and coaching session will help participants to broaden their skills. The masterclasses are jointly conducted by the African Development Bank Group (www.AfDB.org) and Entreprenarium, a pan-African foundation that invests philanthropic capital in the training and financing of women and young entrepreneurs.

Speaking at the opening, African Development Bank Regional Director General, Kapil Kapoor, queried development agendas that discriminate 50% of the population on regulation, skills development, access to information. “We would like to put gender at forefront of our development agenda to cause a transformation that is inclusive. This is a forum where the Bank can do differently to bring about this transformation,” he said.

The training forms part of the Bank’s goal to support over a thousand women entrepreneurs in six African countries. Training has already occurred in the Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon and Kenya, and is under way in Tunisia. From the first three countries, applications for financing are being reviewed with a view to support the most promising projects.

Despite South Africa being the second largest economy in Africa, the nation has very high levels of unemployment (59% youth, 29.5% women), huge disparities in income and too many unskilled youth and women. Many youth and women face numerous challenges that include unaffordable bank fees for those on low incomes, a lack of trust in financial institutions, and informal borrowings.

Access to finance in South Africa remains a challenge, especially to black African women. Some of the major obstacles include inadequate financial literacy; the banking sector’s fear of their perceived risks of lending to women; economic empowerment targets that exclude women’s enterprises; and inadequate or inappropriate bank products.

Entreprenarium has been working with women entrepreneurs throughout Africa since 2004 and has trained over 2,000 entrepreneurs.

Speaking for Entreprenarium, Frédéric Ngirabacu, Chief Operating Officer said, “We developed this programme to support and empower resilient and innovative women entrepreneurs all across the African continent, because they have a right to the same opportunities as men to build their financial autonomy in a sustainable way.”

AFAWA is a powerful and creative new initiative that intends to mobilise over $3 billion of financing for women-empowered businesses in Africa to reduce women’s business vulnerability and liberate unused human potential for sustainable and equitable growth.

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