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Nigeria: MTN and Airtel furious at being locked out of mobile money market

In depth
This article is part of the dossier: Banking Africa

By Ade Lawal
Posted on Thursday, 14 October 2021 12:18

A woman walks past an advertising poster for MTN telecommunication company along a street in Lagos
A woman walks past an advertising poster for MTN telecommunication company along a street in Lagos, Nigeria October 30, 2018. Picture taken October 30, 2018. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

After years of uncertainties, Nigeria's Central Bank finally gave the green light to mobile phone companies to offer mobile money services. However, the licence was issued to only two of the four biggest telecom operators in Nigeria - the domestic players, not the foreign-owned ones. The Africa Report has learnt that MTN and Airtel have been making tremendous efforts to get the regulator on their side, but to no avail. Why is the CBN keeping them out, and what is at stake for the players? What does this say about Nigeria as a destination for Foreign Direct Investment? 

In early 2018, it was reported that the CBN granted a mobile money licence to a subsidiary of MTN Nigeria but revoked it just a week later.

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