Nigerian regulator gives Globacom more time to settle interconnect issues

The somewhat confusing saga of debts that may be owed by Nigeria’s second-biggest operator to its biggest has taken a new twist as Globacom has been granted an additional 21 days to pay the interconnect fees owed to rival operator MTN.

If it does not, it could face a network disconnection scheduled by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

As online news source Connecting Africa explains, this extension, starting from 17 January, is apparently because, according to an NCC announcement “the parties have now reached an agreement to resolve all outstanding issues between them ».

In fact the Commission expects MTN and Globacom to resolve all outstanding issues within the 21 days offered.

If correct, this may imply a change of heart from Globacom, given our report earlier this month that a company representative suggested it did not owe MTN interconnection fees estimated at the equivalent of US$1.8 million. 

The NCC clearly didn’t agree with this argument and issued a disconnection notice to Globacom.  This would have meant that Globacom customers could not call users on the MTN network, although they would still be able to receive MTN calls – and calls between Globacom’s own subscribers would not have been affected.

However, this isn’t the first interconnection charges issue involving Globacom. As Connecting Africa points out, in 2019 MTN partially disconnected Globacom subscribers over an estimated US$5 million worth of unpaid interconnection fees. Globacom partially repaid these and committed to pay the rest.

In the same year, according to Nigeria’s Premium Times news service, NCC granted number three operator Airtel an approval to partially disconnect Globacom from its network, again because of Globacom’s alleged failure to settle interconnect debts.