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Nigeria’s attorney general withdraws $2 billion tax litigation against MTN1 minute read

In 2015, the telecommunications regulator in Nigeria slammed MTN a $5.2 billion fine for failing to disconnect unregistered SIM cards

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Nigeria's attorney general withdraws $2 billion tax litigation against MTN

Nigeria’s attorney general has withdrawn a $2 billion tax demand against the MTN Group. The telecom company and attorney general both announced on Friday.

In a letter filed with the Nigerian Stock Exchange, MTN said that the government had decided to drop its case and refer the issue to tax and customs authorities, with a view of resolving any remaining contentious issues. MTN Nigeria’s Chief Executive Ferdi Moolman said in statement, that MTN is very pleased with the decision of the (attorney general) and commends the AG for his wisdom.

In a statement, the office of Attorney General, Abubakar Malami said the decision demonstrates unflinching commitment to the rule of law where all statutory agencies will be allowed to independently work with a view to fulfilling their mandates.

Malami had ruled that the firm owed taxes relating to the import of equipment and payments to foreign suppliers from 2007 to 2017.

The firms’ shares on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange rose more than 5% after the announcement. Nigeria is its biggest market, with roughly 60 million users.

The company, whose local unit listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange last year, said at the time that it would sell more shares to the public and increase local ownership once the tax row was resolved.

Background-

In 2015, the telecommunications regulator in Nigeria slammed MTN a $5.2 billion fine for failing to disconnect unregistered SIM cards. MTN eventually reached a deal in which the fine was cut to $1 billion.

In August 2018, MTN’s shares fell by more than 20% after the central bank demanded the company repatriate $8.1 billion that it said the company had illegally sent abroad. MTN agreed to pay $53 million to settle the case.

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Ethiopia, Sudan,Egypt inch closer to Nile water use deal

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Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt have moved closer to formalising a water-sharing deal over the Nile after technical teams meeting in Khartoum drew up a draft agreement.

Following a consultative meeting on Thursday, the technical teams from the three countries say observations reached when the countries’ ministers met in Washington two weeks ago have been included.

There are expectations that the next round of discussions, due in Washington next week, could see a formal agreement signed on how to fill the Grand Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile in Ethiopia, without affecting the needs of the riparian countries: Sudan and Egypt.

Muhammad Al-Sebaie, the spokesman for the Sudanese Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation, says technical teams have pored over suggestions from all the three countries in an earlier January 13 meeting in Washington, under the auspices of the US Treasury and the World Bank. The Washington meeting is due on January 28.

Al-Sebaie says there had been some form of “convergence” such as initially filling up to a significant portion of its height (the dam is 155 metres high), to ensure electricity generation for Ethiopia. Thereafter, the subsequent filling will depend on weather conditions and there would be a joint implementation committee to oversee when to suspend filling, reducing volumes or surging the flow.

The key pillars in the agreement, he said, will be how to fill up the dam in stages, during the months of July and August, and in September based on drought or rain condition

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Tanzania, Barrick sign new implementation deal

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Tanzania and Canadian mining giant, Barrick Gold Corp have signed an agreement to kick-start a new joint venture company overseeing Barrick’s future gold mining operations in the country, as a way forward following a year long impasse.
“Being a year now, we have finally completed the long journey of negotiations and renegotiations and agreed on nine key points that will underpin the activities of Twiga Mining company, a joint company between the Tanzanian government and Barrick,” Foreign Affairs Minister Prof Paramagamba Kabudi said at the signing held in State House in Dar es Salaam, and witnessed by President John Magufuli. 

No details were immediately available of the nine points highlighted in the new agreement which will oversee implementation of the original pact between Tanzania and Barrick dating back to October 2017 when former Barrick affiliate Acacia Mining was still running the Tanzanian operation of three gold mines in the country’s lake zone.

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Nigeria to consider private power sector overhaul

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Following a national Economic Council meeting yesterday, The Nigerian government has announced that it will consider an overhaul of the private power sector.

The country’s power sector was privatized in 2013, but millions of Nigerians remain without access to power, with grids plagued by frequent blackouts, leaving businesses and consumers reliant on power generators.

Plans to build privately financed power stations have been railroaded in recent years by concerns of persistent shortfalls in payments for electricity across the sector.

Currently, the government-owned Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading company (NBET) buys power from generators and passes it on to distributors who then receive payment from customers and reimburse NBET.

According to Nasir El-Rufai, Chairman of a committee set up by the NEC to harmonise the Power Sector Reform, the government looks to end the existing challenges and the committee’s request to begin the process of finding solutions is now approved.

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