Further staff downsizing likely as MTN struggles to tame setbacks

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By Oluwatobi Opusunju

MTN Nigeria which recently disengaged 280 long-serving staff; about 16% of its workforce as part of the company’s restructuring plans, may further cut down on staff strength for its Nigerian operations. No thanks to rising OPEX even as Nigeria’s economy struggles with recession.

Sacked staff said the action came as a shock. They had no prior notice although rumours were rife of an imminent staff cut.  Even after laying off 280 staff members, there are fears among unaffected staff they could be asked to go.

Still feeling the brunt of a $5.2 billion unprecedented fine imposed in October 2015 by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for not meeting the deadline to disconnect the Subscribers Identification Modules (SIM) with improper registration, MTN has been battling with maintaining its share value, market strength and plummeting profits.

Although the fine was reduced to $3.2 billion (a 330 billion Naira) after strong diplomatic measure between the Nigerian and South African governments, the company is yet to overcome its corporate demons even after the resignation of top management members of its Nigerian and South Africa operations including the chief executive officer, Sifiso Dabengwa, the Head of Nigeria Operation, Micheal Ikpoki and the Head of Cooperate Affairs, Akinwale Goodluck.

MTN has already paid 30 billion naira and any likelihood of a further reduction in the fine has been ruled out by Nigerian authorities.

To tame rising cost of operations inside a Nigeria’s economy in recession and sustain profitability, “the company inevitably will have to reduce non-critical staff,” said Victor Adebo, a telecom analyst in Lagos.

“We were sacked, 280 of us without prior notification. What we were told is that it was due to the company’s restructuring plans,” said one of sacked staff who added that the company merely wished them best of luck to pursue their career elsewhere.


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