Nigeria’s Trade and Investment minister, Okechukwu Enelamah told Reuters that the country is confident it will resolve the dispute with telecoms firm MTN. He said resolving the situation will send a positive signal to foreign investors worried about Nigeria’s demand for the money.
Back in August 2018, Nigeria’s central bank ordered the South African firm and its lenders to bring $8.1 billion back into Nigeria that it alleges the company sent abroad in breach of foreign exchange regulations. Separately, MTN faces a $2 billion tax demand from the country’s attorney general.
Enelamah revealed the government was talking to all parties involved and aiming to resolve the disputes soon to boost investor confidence. He said “we have had discussions in government and we have engaged MTN. I’m sure that the issue would be resolved”.
The Minister said after Nigerian officials met fund managers on the sidelines of the United Nations summit in New York last month, investors had welcomed the government’s feedback on the disputes.The case involving the central bank is due to be heard in a Lagos court on October 30, while a hearing on the tax bill is scheduled at the same court on November 8.
Enelamah said Nigeria attracted between $6 billion and $7 billion from foreign investors in 2017, up from less than $3 billion in 2016. He added the country was on track to ratify agreements to join the African free trade area in 2018.