President Muhammadu Buhari and his South African counterpart, Jacob Zuma, are set to meet in Johannesburg this week to discuss the US$5,2bn fine imposed by Nigerian Communications Commission on MTN.

The Forum of China-Africa Co-operation, which takes place in South Africa this week, will provide the backdrop for a meeting between the two presidents to discuss the record-setting fine, which is reportedly more than 50 times larger than the next-biggest regulatory fine to be imposed on a telecoms operator anywhere in the world.

MTN Nigeria was fined 1,04 trillion naira — $5,2bn, or R75bn – for allegedly failing to cut off as many as 5,1m unregistered Sim cards under that country’s Sim card registration legislation. Nigeria sees the registration process as a key part of its crackdown on crime and terrorism.

For the past two weeks, interim MTN Group Executive Chairman Phuthuma Nhleko — who has taken the reins following the sudden resignation of CEO Sifiso Dabengwa — has been negotiating with Nigerian authorities in an effort to have the fine reduced and is said to be seeking to have it paid off in tranches.

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