Orange issued its first sustainability bond for €500 million, seeking to finance projects aimed at driving digital and social inclusion, and combatting climate change.
In a statement, the group said the move would allow it to expand its investor base and optimise its funding structure, as the issue “was met with great success” from socially responsible investing (SRI) entities.
The larger pile of the raised funds (60 per cent) will be allocated to projects for energy efficiency and a circular economy. The rest will be put into plans for digital and social inclusion.
Orange delegate CEO Ramon Fernandez noted the company felt it was “necessary to drive our business with the objective to contribute to a more sustainable and fair world”, as the Covid-19 (coronavirus) crisis emphasised “the essential nature of telecommunications”.
The operator group stated the bond issuance was in line with its Engage 2025 strategy which Orange CEO Stephane Richard previously claimed needed social and environmental policies following the outbreak.
IHS Towers Acquires 819 Mobile Towers in Latin America
Telecoms infrastructure provider IHS Towers added 819 towers to its Latin America portfolio, as it looks to boost its market presence in what it claimed was a key region offering significant growth potential.
In a statement, the company explained the deal includes the acquisition of 602 towers in Brazil and 217 in Colombia from tower operator Centennial Towers, bringing its total portfolio to more than 29,700 towers spanning nine markets.
Following the deal, Centennial Towers only has operations in Mexico, consisting of approximately 800 towers.
IHS Towers said the move was aligned with its growth strategy, reinforcing its position and “core expertise” in both countries.
The tower operator added the takeover would place it in a good position to support 5G rollouts in Brazil and Colombia by providing new locations for signal transmission and distribution, alongside fibre deployment support.
IHS Towers chairman and group CEO Sam Darwish highlighted Latin America as a “key region for us with its high growth potential” and said the company will continue increasing its market presence in the territory.
The provider entered Latin America in February 2020 by purchasing nearly 2,300 towers in Brazil from Cell Site Solutions.
Nigerian Banks Lift USSD Restriction As MTN Reverts Back To 4.5% Commission
- Extends Partnership with Fintechs
MTN Nigeria, commercial banks and aggregators have agreed to revert back to the old commission formula for airtime vending on unstructured supplementary service data (USSD) and banking app channels.
The three parties have reverted back to the old 4.5 per cent commission charged for airtime vending through USSD and other banking channels. They reached for each other jugular over an impromptu reduction in the commission rate from 4.5 per cent to 2.5 per cent which too k effect on Thursday April 1, 2021.
At virtual meeting held yesterday by the chief executive officer of MTN Nigeria, Mr. Karl Toriola; the group CEO of Access Bank Plc, Mr. Herbert Wigwe who is also the chairman of the Body of Bank CEOs in Nigeria; Group CEO of Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, Mr. Segun Agbaje as well as MTN Nigeria’s chief financial officer, Modupe Kadri, they agreed to revert back to status quo ante of 4.5 per cent commission on USSD airtime.
MTN CEO, Toriola and addressed to Wigwe which was a follow-up on the virtual stated that, “In an attempt to resolve the current USSD impasse, given the intervention of our regulators, we hereby agree that the banks revert back to the status quo of 4.5 per cent commission.
“However, the banks and MTN Nigeria Plc shall sit to agree on various options that will result in the costs on 6th of April 2021.” The letter was copied to the Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of the NCC.
Elaborating further, he said in another statement that “the document was issued by me to the banks on the specific intervention of the CBN Governor and the Minister for Communications and Digital Economy. MTN’s intention has always been geared towards business optimization to the benefit of our customers and indeed the country.
“This is evidenced by the fact that through the USSD imbroglio, we never denied access to our customers. In the current case, customers have been denied access to services by the banks despite having monies in their accounts to purchase those services. MTN will naturally do all it can to minimise customer pain. It is not just about revenue for us.
“The good of our customers influence every decision we take. The CBN Governor’s intervention is in line with our core values. We acceded to his request and that of our Minister. We will continue to live our values that ‘everyone deserves the benefits of a modern connected life,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, the operator with over 70 million subscribers said it will continue to engage Fintechs to vend airtime. According to Funso Aina, Snr. Manager, External Relations, MTN, the links to access the various alternative platforms include:
1. MTN On Demand is on *904# and also via https://mtnondemand.flutterwave.com;
2. Barter By Flutter Wave is an app that can be downloaded here: http://tosto.re/getbarter;
3. Jumia Pay (app);
4. OPay (app);
5. MTN Xtratime airtime loans (*606#);
6. Carbon (app);
7. Kuda (app);
8. BillsnPay (web https://www.billsnpay.com/. They also have an app);
9. myMTN Web http://mymtn.com.ng;
10. Momo agent *223#
The Apps can be downloaded from the Playstore and the Appstore.
Nigerian Banks Restrict USSD Transaction On MTN Over Commission
Nigerian banks have restricted transactions on USSD channels with Nigeria’s biggest mobile network operator, MTN Nigeria over a dispute on vending commission rate.
This restriction which took effect on April 1, 2021 was a result of the reduction of commission accruable to telecommunication Value Added Services (VAS) Aggregators and banks from 3.5 per cent to 2.5 per cent.
The aggregators alleged that had on March 31 informed them about the reduction in the commission earned by them which took effect the following day. Both the aggregators and the banks were uncomfortable with the new rate and the banks decided to restrict USSD channel transactions with MTN Nigeria to show their annoyance.
This new dimension is a dent on the recent resolution by both the telecommunications and banking industry regulators, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to resolve the USSD dispute which has lingered since 2019.
One of the aggregators alleged that MTN was bent on playing a dominant role in the digital financial services subsector in Nigeria and would do anything to limit the influence of the banks.
Reaction to the development, a telecom industry source who pleaded anonymity as he was not authorised to speak on the matter informed SiliconNigeria that “The overnight suspension of airtime sales by some of the banks was not restricted to USSD channels alone, but includes airtime purchases through all banking channels – bank apps, bank USSD codes, even debit cards.”
Another source, said “The current dispute by the banks and the telecom industry is as a result of the debt of N42 billion owed telecom operators by banks. They want to surreptitiously factor it into a new price regime so that customers will unknowingly help them pay what they had already billed them. Of course, we refused, which is why they are fighting us now. USSD has not been cut by MTN.”
According to him, banks did not send a formal communication to customers or to MTN before taking this action. With their action, the banks are denying customers from accessing their money to make legitimate purchases/transactions. The banks are willing to cut off services to customers in order to protect profits.”
In the last four years, the banks have made:
Bank Turnover Bank/ Earnings:
2017 – N148b/N8b 5.5%;
2018 – N240b/N13b 5.5%;
2019 – N320b/N14b 4.5%;
2020 – N470b/N18b 4%;
2021 – Projected N652b/N20b 4% Q1 & 2.5% YE.
The NCC had in 2018 carried out the licensing of Value Added Services (VAS) Aggregators in the bid to improve the service delivery framework and improve consumer satisfaction on value-added services. The framework was to ensure that telecom subscribers truly get added value when they sign up for such services, and that all stakeholders along the value chain are treated equitably so that the industry can grow.
The Commission had licenced about 233 registered operators in the VAS segment of the telecoms industry. It allocated Short Codes to the 233 VAS licencees for the provision of different VAS services which has immensely enhanced service delivery in the Nigerian telecom and financial services industries.
For instances, you can now recharge your mobile phone line, pay utility bills, make mobile Payments through VAS platforms. VAS has thus made life simple, contributed to the promotion of the financial inclusion policy of the government and facilitated the creation of wealth for many Nigerians.
According to the Executive commissioner, technical services, NCC, Engr. Ubale Maska, ““Anything outside your telephone call or text message we consider it as VAS. It is good for the industry because it has brought a lot of convenience.For instance, you can sit down and transfer money to any account with short codes without going to the bank to queue.”
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