MTN South Africa has paid the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) R1.9 billion to settle outstanding spectrum fees.
The announcement, disclosed in MTN South Africa’s Q3 financial results for 2023, comes after MTN Group said its South African subsidiary would pay the communications authority the outstanding R1.9 billion for the spectrum it purchased but could not use.
In March 2022, ICASA completed the auction of the International Mobile Telecommunications spectrum, also known as the high-demand radio frequency spectrum. The auction process, according to the regulator, exceeded financial projections, raising R14.4 billion for the national fund.
While ICASA granted MTN and other telecom companies, such as Vodacom and Telkom, until October 2023 to settle their bills, MTN said it would make its R1.9 billion payment to expand the country's spectrum deployment in the second half of 2023.
Meanwhile, MTN Group has increased network availability in South Africa to 95%, allowing the subsidiary to provide its 36.8 million South African subscribers with a significantly improved network experience.
MTN South Africa's network availability increased to more than 95% at the end of September, up from just over 90% three months earlier, thanks to significant investment and advancements in network resilience.
After growing by 2.5% in Q2 and 1.3% in Q1, MTN South Africa's service revenue increased by 4.1% annually in Q3 to R31 billion.
Because the telco kept up its efforts to reduce expenses and protect profitability and cash flows, the South African subsidiary's margin on earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) increased from 36.2% in Q1 2023 to 37.2% in Q3.
It follows a 10.6 billion rand ($577 million) lease and capital expenditure investment to upgrade sites with renewable energy, batteries, generators, and enhanced security to counteract the nation's power outages.
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Due to a severe and unprecedented energy crisis, South Africa has been experiencing daily blackouts, also known as "load shedding."
“Power outages in South Africa continued to be a challenge. However, the significant progress made in our network resilience program, combined with lower load shedding during the third quarter, supported average network availability of above 95%,” MTN Group President and Chief Executive Officer Ralph Mupita said in a statement.