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MTN wants to be Africa’s biggest bank

MTN, Africa’s biggest mobile operator, is gunning to become Africa’s biggest bank.

The ambitious business strategy was revealed by MTN CEO Rob Shuter yesterday during the Deloitte Africa in 2018 Outlook conference in Woodmead.

“The core digital service that we have decided to put our money on is Mobile Money,” said Shuter.

“Mobile Money is really about leveraging the strength of the brand and leveraging the strength of the distribution because we have built a huge informal distribution network for prepaid airtime to bring customers into a transactional banking system.”

“We are a new age transactional banking provider and it’s a very big imperative for us, and the key thing we want to do is to scale it rapidly.

According to Shuter, MTN wants to build Mobile Money into a 60 million customer business in the next three to four years.

“We will be the largest bank in Africa, leveraging scale, network, brand, infrastructure and distribution,” he noted.

More opportunities

Detailing the company’s other plans, Shuter said he is upbeat about the economies of Africa and the Middle East, where the telco has operations.

“We are very optimistic about what we see. For us, we see more opportunities than challenges. We see the need to focus on our core geographies and this is partially because this is where we see the growth. We see Asia-Pacific as the fastest growing economy but the Middle East and Africa are also following suit.”

MTN looks at the market in terms of three core customer segments – consumer, enterprise and wholesale, Shuter pointed out.

“If we look at consumer, what’s quite inspiring for us, looking at our geographies, is we have a population of about 650 million people across the 22 markets we operate in.

“In the next three to four years, that 650 million people is going to grow to 700 million people. An increase of 50 million people is the same as adding another South Africa to the portfolio. So that gives us a lot of opportunities, actually still in the traditional voice business – SIM penetration, voice, handsets, SMS, etc.”

The three biggest markets for MTN are SA, Nigeria and Iran, Shuter said, adding the economic conditions are improving. “In Nigeria, oil prices are coming back and inflation is coming under control.

“South Africa is also witnessing winds of change politically, while Iran is a market that is opening up, particularly to Europe, despite the rhetoric that we hear from the US.”

He said the other aspect that defines the market is the low level of Internet and digital services.

“When you look at the adoption of mobile Internet, we are talking 20% to 30% of these markets. These are markets with born-digital youthful populations – these are people who were introduced to the Internet on a mobile device.”

He believes there is also the potential for the adoption of digital services – Mobile Money, media, entertainment and social media.

“So there are a lot of positives in the consumer side of the business. If we are looking at the market size, we are looking at R500 billion to R600 billion in all the geographies that we operate in; that’s about two-thirds of the market. If you want to be successful for the long run in our industry, you have to be very well-positioned in the consumer market in terms of brand, products, network, technology, resources, etc.

 

Source: itweb.co.za

Vodafone wins big at UK-Ghana Chamber of Commerce awards

Vodafone Ghana has won two prestigious awards at the maiden edition of the Business Excellence Awards hosted by the UK-Ghana Chamber of Commerce (UKGCC).

The event seeks to recognise the great works of reputable Ghanaian and UK companies operating in the country whilst providing a platform for intimate interactions between key players in the business community.

Vodafone took home honours for two categories – Best Brand and Most Successful Company of the Year – to highlight the company’s relentless efforts in establishing a company that continues to set the tone for the telecoms industry.

The organisers cited Vodafone’s exceptional demonstration of strong growth and innovative strategies; stakeholder management and a notable customer experience, as key points that worked in their favour.

UKGCC-Vodafone2

Commenting, Gayheart Mensah, Director of External Affairs at Vodafone Ghana said:”A persistent pursuit of excellence always yields results and that has been the Vodafone story to date. We are committed to putting the customer first in all we say and do because without them we have no business. We are excited to be honoured by the UK-Ghana Chamber of Commerce and for us, it is also a reflection of a year where, despite the industry challenges, we have emerged victorious. The future can only be exciting and we are ready to stand by our customers.”

The UKGCC is an organisation made up of local experts and professionals that support British Businesses looking to access and engage with the Ghanaian market, whilst providing assistance to Ghanaian companies investing in the UK.

 

Source: Ghana | Myjoyonline.com

Surfline debunks reports of acquisition moves by Vodafone

The CEO of Surfline Communication, David Rottmayer, has said recent media reports that Vodafone is making moves to acquire the company are false.

A local news website recently alleged that Vodafone was making moves to acquire Surfline, citing supposed sources close to the negotiation.

But the Surfline boss told Adom News “We are not in a discussion concerning acquisition at this time…the information out there is flawed.”

He confirmed earlier reports by Adom News that Surfline and Vodafone were in service partnership talks, adding that the two parties have made progress towards an arrangement that would see Vodafone customers enjoy Surfline 4G services.

“We have had a joint conversation concerning Surfline providing them (Vodafone) with White Label service thus allowing users (of Vodafone) to partake in our excellent 4G network,” Rottmayer said.

He suspects that those speculating about Vodafone making moves to acquire Surfline may have heard about the White Label discussion and then made some leaps into the meaning.

More than a year ago Adom News reported that Vodafone and Surfline presented a partnership proposal to the National Communications Authority (NCA) but their plans were stalled for “lack of a regulatory framework for such partnerships”.

But Rottmayer said they have since made progress with the NCA, adding that both companies have had fruitful discussions with the NCA on the planned white label partnership and many other opportunities.

e, however, noted that there are a few technical and commercial obstacles they need to work through to secure the green light from NCA and then rollout Surfline 4G services to a wider Ghanaian population on Vodafone.

“We are all very sure that these minor issues will be resolved and we can move forward to expand the 4G offering to a larger Ghanaian base,” he said.

Industry watchers believe this partnership would be one of Vodafone’s main strategies to counter the threat of the AirtelTigo merger.

It is also seen as a major move for Surfline to rekindle investor confidence in Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) sector.

Whereas the Surfline-Vodafone partnership promises to widen 4G accessibility, it is also faced with a possible opposition from market leader MTN, which acquired a 4G license for a whopping $67.5 million just two years ago.

All other telcos, particularly Vodafone, have been very vocal on the point that the license cost was way too high, and they are not in the position to even acquire the license for half that price.

MTN has also made the point that it would not sit by and watch any telco enter the 4G space through the “backdoor” in the form of partnerships.

“If they want to come in they must also cough $67.5million and acquire a license to ensure a fair playing field,” an official of MTN said on grounds of anonymity.

It is, however, unclear how MTN will practically respond to this Vodafone-Surfline partnership, which is nearing realization.

But an industry expert said there are a number of options available to MTN – either they would seek to get some refund from NCA, which is very unlikely, or go to court and stop the “backdoor” entry by Vodafone.

Rottmayer, however, believes the Surfline-Vodafone partnership will be a game changer in the 4G space, and if MTN believes in their 800MHz 4G network, then they should welcome the partnership and encourage the competition.

 

Source: myjoyonline

MTN urges govt to scrap stabilization levy from 2018 budget

MTN is urging the government not to extend the “nuisance” National Fiscal Stabilization Levy (NFSL) in the 2018 Budget Statement which will be read on Wednesday, 15th November 2017.

The five per cent NFSL, payable quarterly, was introduced in 2009 but was abolished in January 2012. It was reintroduced on September 30, 2013 by ACT 862, and subsequently amended to end in December 2017.

It was imposed on Banks (excluding rural and community banks)
Non-Bank Financial Institutions, Insurance companies, Telecommunications companies liable to collect and pay the Communications Service Tax, Breweries, Inspection and valuation companies, Companies providing mining support services, Shipping lines, as well as maritime and airport terminals.

In the telecommunications industry, MTN Ghana is the only operator which pays the levy since the other Telcos do not make or declare any profit.

In response to a questionnaire from Adom News, MTN disclosed that between 2013 and now, it has paid a total of GHS134,081,000 and it projects an additional GHS49.855million to hit GHS159million by close of this year.

In 2013 MTN paid GHS11,597,000; 2014​​ – ​GHS 25,441,000; 2015​​​ – GHS 31,150,000; and in 2016​​​ it paid GHS 41,023,000

MTN therefore thinks the levy should be removed from the 2018 budget, firstly because by law, it would have outlived its purpose by close of 2017, and secondly, it hampers MTN’s growth in its operations and increases its tax burden.

“The NFSL has overrun the period set for it to last for, and because the affected companies did not expect it to go beyond 18 months, it is now beginning to impact plans for expansion and more reinvestments,” MTN said.

The telecoms market leader also noted that removing the NFSL would be consistent with the Minister of Finance’s promise to get rid of all nuisance taxes.

The company said the continuous stay of the levy in the budget beyond December 2017 would be unfair to MTN because it is the only telco that pays and it is affecting its level of commitment to invest in the network for future expansion which contributes to the development of the telecoms industry in Ghana.

“MTN could use the freed up money for further network expansion to the rural areas which are unserved or underserved, or it could be invested in additional CSR projects in deprived communities,” it said.

The telcos giant said if the levy remains in the budget to be read tomorrow, it would take the matter up with Parliament’s Select Committee on Finance and Communications.

 

Source: Adomnews

Vodafone’s application for 30% tax waiver turned down

In a dramatic turn of events in the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and Vodafone Ghana tax dispute before the court, the Acting Commissioner-General of the GRA has refused to grant a waiver of the payment of 30 per cent of the value of tax in contention.

In a letter to Vodafone dated October 4, 2017, obtained by ghanabusinessnews.com, the Acting Commissioner-General of the GRA, Mr. Emmanuel Kofi Nti, said he will not grant the waiver requested by Vodafone.

The Commissioner-General has discretionary powers to grant or deny waivers in tax.

In July 2017, the Transfer Pricing Unit of the GRA conducted a Transfer Pricing audit of the company for the 2012 – 2016 years of assessment and found Vodafone liable of GH¢162,468,361.90 in taxes.

But Vodafone disagreed with the GRA’s use of the Technology Transfer Regulations, 1992 (L.I. 1547) instead of the Transfer Pricing Regulations, 2012 (L.I. 2188,) in the audit exercise, court documents show.

In a back and forth correspondence between the two, the GRA counteracts Vodafone’s assertions by arguing that after subjecting the company’s transactions to the Technology Transfer Regulation 1992, (L.I. 1547), it established that the transactions do not meet the Arm’s Length Test.

Following several meetings to resolve the matter, the GRA asked Vodafone to submit its grievances in writing. That was done through its consultants, KPMG, the document states.

However, Vodafone while waiting for a response from the GRA, it instead received an audit report with the tax assessment of GH¢162,468,361.90 from the Transfer Pricing Unit of the GRA, which demanded that the stated assessment should be paid within 14 days. Vodafone however, objected to the demand.

The telecoms provider then went to court asking the court to compel the Commissioner-General to determine its request for a waiver of the said payment of the 30 per cent of the amount which is to the tune of GH¢49 million.

Meanwhile, in response to Vodafone Ghana’s objections, the GRA has said among others in an Affidavit to the court that between 2012 and 2016, Vodafone Ghana has remitted GH¢2.1 billion to its parent company outside Ghana. The amount, the tax authorities say is about 30 per cent of the telecoms provider’s turnover, adding that the company has not paid corporate income tax for six years. A fact that Vodafone officials have admitted arguing that it is because the company hasn’t made any profit since it took over Ghana Telecoms in 2009.

The matter has been adjourned twice already. The Court will, however, hear the case today after Vodafone Ghana prayed the court to adjourn to today October 23, 2017.

Portions of the letter that stated the refusal of the tax waiver read as follows:

“We refer to your application dated 25th August 2017, requesting for a waiver of the 30% of the tax objected to by your company.

“We also refer to the Authority’s letter of September 4th 2017, in which you were informed that the Commissioner-General was yet to consider a decision to exercise his discretionary power under subsection 6 of section 42 of the Ghana Revenue Management Act 2016 Act 915.

“Having thereafter considered your said request of 25th August, 2017, the Commissioner-General has refused to grant your application for a waiver of the payment of the said 30% of the tax in dispute.

“In line with subsection 5 of section 42 of the Ghana Revenue Management Act 2016 Act 915, you are advised to comply with the Authority’s letter of 4th September 2017.”

 

Source: Adomnews

Vodafone, GRA lock horns over alleged 6-year-old tax default

The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) is alleging that between 2012 and 2016, Vodafone Ghana has remitted GH¢2.1 billion to its parent company, the Vodafone Group, but the company still owes corporate income taxes in Ghana for the past six years.

The amount, the tax authorities say is about 30 percent of the Vodafone Ghana’s turnover, and yet Vodafone claims it has not made any profits since it took over Ghana Telecom in 2009.

This is contained in an affidavit filed by the GRA in response to a motion filed by Vodafone Ghana at the High Court of Justice, Commercial Division in Accra, against the GRA disputing tax assessments of over GH¢160 million.

Vodafone.jpg

The GRA has asked Vodafone to pay 30 percent of the stated assessment while negotiations continue, which is what the law says, but Vodafone has requested a waiver from the Commissioner-General.

The telecoms provider is asking the Court to compel the Commissioner-General to determine its request for a waiver of the said payment of the 30 percent of the amount which is about GH¢49 million.

The writ filed at the Commercial Court in Accra, lists Vodafone Ghana as GhanaTelecommunications Co. Ltd, and states that “the lawyers of the Applicant shall move this Honourable Court praying for an order of certiorari, bringing up and quashing the decision of the Respondent demanding payment of 30 percent of a disputed tax assessment and for an order of mandamus compelling the Respondent to determine the Applicant’s request for a waiver of said payment.”

The GRA in the affidavit obtained by Adom News describes Vodafone’s motion as ill-conceived and misplaced because it was filed even before the Commissioner-General could determine the application Vodafone to him.

Meanwhile, Vodafone officials have denied the claims that the company has been remitting its parent company outside Ghana.

The 29 point affidavit states, among other things, that Vodafone Ghana applied to the GRA under section 42(6) of the Revenue Administration Act 2016, (Act 915) to waive the payment of the 30 percent, but also states that section 42(7) of the same Act sets out the issues to be considered by the GRA in determining an application for a waiver.

The affidavit states further that in the light of section 42(7), the GRA wrote to Vodafone that it was yet to consider whether to exercise the power under section 42(6) of Act 915, noting that under section 43(2) of Act 915, the Authority has 60 days upon receipt of an objection to a tax decision to make a determination of the objection, but 26 days after filing its objection and 19 days after the request for a waiver of the 30 percent, Vodafone Ghana filed for application to quash a decision that had not been made and to compel the making of a decision for which the statutory period had not expired.

In the affidavit, the GRA describes Vodafone’s application to invoke the supervisory jurisdiction of the court as premature, owing to the fact that it was filed on September 13, 2017 — 26 days from the date of receipt of Vodafone’s objection to the tax assessment raised on it.

The GRA contends further that the transfer pricing audit of Vodafone Ghana is still ongoing which necessitated the Respondent’s request for information dated on August 21, 2017, adding,” that the request for further information with respect to the Transfer Pricing Audit ‘in order to facilitate the audit process’ is different from the Audit and tax assessment of GH¢162, 468, 361.90 under the Technology Transfer Regulations, 1992 (L.I. 1547).”

The GRA argues further that the application to court by Vodafone Ghana, is clearly an attempt to avoid satisfying the conditions imposed by law for a determination of its objection against a tax decision, adding, “that the demand for the payment of 30 percent of the assessment is a mere fraction of tax assessed considering the amount of money remitted to Vodafone Ghana’s parent company.”

The GRA tells the court in the affidavit that Vodafone’s current application is not only without any legal and factual basis, but same is completely erroneous, wholly misconceived and thus unmeritorious and prays that same be dismissed with costs.

 

Source; Adomnews

MTN commits to customer satisfaction

Ghana’s leading Telecom Operator, MTN, has reiterated its commitment to uphold customer satisfaction in its operations.

According to officials, the company has come this far because of the contribution customers have made for the past years, indicating that it was necessary to place more value on them.

MTN as part of activities marking the annual celebration of their customers in the Ashanti Region, which is popularly called Ashanti fest, organized a health walk and medical screening exercise for about 5,000 residents in the region including its customers.

A team of medical personnel from a private hospital in Kumasi, screened participants with conditions such as blood pressure, malaria, diabetes and anaemia.

Speaking at the event, Head of Technical Department, MTN Northern Business District, Charles Osei Akoto, said the company cherishes its customers, and will do more to help them live a better life.

He indicated that, MTN was not only focusing on profit-making, whiles forgetting about the welfare of the customers who support the growth of the brand.

The customer celebration event he said, had also focused on organizing sporting activities as a way of providing leisure for them.

Participants who joined the walk, went through principal streets in the metropolis, including Nhyiaeso through to the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA), to the Cocobod road in Adum to Asafo, and finally at ended at the Heroes Park near the Calvary Methodist Church close to the Kumasi Sports stadium.

 

Source: citifmonline

MTN must fight Mobile Money fraud – Vendors

Some mobile money vendors have charged telecom giant, MTN, to work at reducing mobile money fraud on the company’s network.

Some victims of mobile money fraud called into the station during and after Citi FM’s Business Today programme, which discussed the growing cases of mobile money fraud on Wednesday.

According to statistics, at least fifty percent of Mobile Money subscribers have either experienced one form of fraud or have been a target for Mobile Money fraudsters.

One of the vendors, who only gave her name as Mabel at Spintex, complained about a repeated act where cash sent are converted into airtime after which the receivers get calls from anonymous persons.

“I am a vendor and it is only MTN I have, this issue keeps recurring, sometimes when I transfer money, the receiver gets it in credit. Then they get a call from another person telling them to follow certain steps to convert into cash only for them to be swindled,”  she said.

“I had about three or four complains. My question is, how do the people know that the money has been sent to a receiver as credit. I think the system is compromised,” she said.

She added that, despite making complaints to MTN, the telecom operator informed her it will be unable to deal with the matter since the victims normally disclose vital information that grant access into the account.

“So I went to the MTN office to make a complaint and the lady who attended to me said there is nothing they could do about it because I am not the only one who has complained about the issue.”

But Manager in charge of Mobile Financial Services at MTN, Solomon Hayford debunked the claims.

According to him, the station has always addressed suspected mobile money fraud with the CID when they are reported.

“These claims are not true; they are false. We have transaction record for all transactions since the start of the service. It is a mandatory requirement by the Electronic Money issuers’ guideline that we keep transactional records for at least six years so that allegation is not true” he clarified.

He pointed out that, the situation is made difficult when mobile money users willingly give their account details, including secret pins to people.

He emphasized that under no circumstances will an MTN worker demand for the pins of a mobile money account.

Business Solutions Analyst at Ecrime Bureau, Philip Dankwa Debrah, advised that vendors as well as customers should be vigilant in their transactions to avoid getting swindled.

“We need to be very vigilant in terms of the processes. One way we can have it clear is that, if you are a mobile money merchant, and you have recruited somebody you may have to do background checks, due diligence checks on the person handling the transactions for you because it is very possible for business owners to bring in people who are equally criminals” he advised.

Head of Cyber Security of the CID, Chief Superintendant Dr. Herbert Yankson, pointed out some activities customers can avoid so they are not swindled.

“What we realize is that, a lot of them tend to believe whatever they are told. They tend to be so gullible and tend to believe whatever somebody calls them to say. They rather must do some form of due diligence to avoid any fraud attack” he advised.

NCA approves Airtel,Tigo merger

The National Communications Authority has given approval for the merger between Bharti Ghana Limited, (Airtel),and Millicom Ghana Limited, (Tigo), to proceed subject to some conditions.

A statement from the NCA and copied to Citi Business News indicated that, the merger will result in an entity which will be the second largest mobile network operations in the country.The merger, which was first announced in March this year, required the regulator to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the application and the regulatory ecosystem.To ensure efficient and equitable distribution and access to the spectrum, the merged entities will have to submit a network integration plan to the Authority which will indicate how they intend to relinquish portions of their total spectrum allocation.

This, however, will be done in phases on geographical area basis and over a period not exceeding eighteen (18) months to avoid disruptions on the network.On the issue of numbers, the merged entity shall retain all the numbering resources held by the merging entities. The NCA has also requested the merged entity to submit a plan to educate customers about changes and related measures within 30 days from date of merger.

The merger approval is also conditioned with an option for Government participation. Based on agreements which have been accepted by the merging entities and the payment of relevant fees, a supplementary agreement to the licences of the merging entities will be signed between the NCA and the merging entities; the day of the signing of the agreement will be the effective date of the merger.

The merged entity will have a 3G Licence valid until 25th January, 2024 while their 2G Licence will be valid until 30th October, 2021. The NCA wishes to assure all stakeholders, especially consumers, that their various interests will be protected, and that the Authority will endeavor to maintain stability within the industry.

 

 

 

Credit:

citibusinessnews.com/Ghana

NCA to descend on TV stations, internet providers soon

The National Communications Authority (NCA), will soon clamp down on television stations and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) flouting its regulations.

This will be after it completes a thorough audit it is conducting into the operations of companies within the sector.The Head of Consumer and Corporate Affairs of the NCA, Nana Dufie Badu, who confirmed this to Citi News said the NCA is poised to streamline the operations of all companies within the industry.

She said the NCA’s recent actions against radio stations that have violated their terms of authorization was not an act of political witch-hunting.

“The NCA had to face the Public Accounts Committee for something of this sort to answer as to why it had allowed some companies it regulates to close down, and not to pay the required regulatory fees. This is an effort that the NCA is making to streamline the operations of all service providers within the communication industry. This is not aimed at any of the FM broadcasting stations,” she said.

Ursula Owusu- Ekuful, Minister of Communication

She added that, “A similar audit is also going on for TV services and ISPs among others… If there are companies that are not in compliance with the terms and conditions of the authorization, they will be sanctioned.”

A total of 131 radio stations, including Accra based-Radio Gold, Atlantis Radio and Radio XYZ, were sanctioned by the National Communications Authority (NCA) on Friday for various violations of the terms of their authorization.

The offenses included operating without a license and operating with expired license among others.The sanctions meted out to them ranged from fines to the total revocation of licenses. Radio XYZ was fined GHc 4,090,000, while Atinka FM was fined GHc 14,800,000.

Radio Gold and Atlantis Radio were fined GHc 61,330,000 and GHc 60,350,000 respectively.

 

 

 

Credit:

citifmonline.com/Ghana

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