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Nokia reopens Lagos office

Nokia has been able to reopen its office in Lagos, Nigeria after engaging in “constructive and collaborative” engagement with authorities after it was forced to close over alleged unpaid licence fees last week.

Nigeria’s telecoms regulator the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) last week closed and sealed Nokia’s office in Lagos, claiming the company had failed to pay a sales and installation licence to the value of US$6,300.

Nokia has been operating in Nigeria for a decade, but Salisu Abdul, head of the enforcement unit at the NCC, said it had been operating without the required licence for many years. The company had applied for the licence earlier this year but was yet to complete the process.

The NCC also threatened Nokia with a fine in addition to the unpaid licence fee, but in a statement released today the company said it had been able to reopen its office in the country having engaged in “constructive and collaborative” engagement with the regulator.

Nokia said its business operations and support to its customers in the country had not been affected by the brief office closure.

“Nokia has operated in Nigeria for over a decade, and as in all other markets where we have a presence, we have conducted business with sound corporate governance,” the company said.

“We are always mindful that our business success is based upon superior commercial propositions and long-lasting partnerships with regulators, governments, suppliers, customers, partners and employees in all our markets.”

In the statement, the company said it took its responsibilities and obligations to building a sustainable industry that contributes to the growth of local economies very seriously.

“Nokia remain fully committed to acting in accordance with applicable requirements and regulations when delivering world-class connectivity solutions to the Nigerian market, in adherence with Nokia’s culture of high-performance, innovation and integrity,” the company said.

The closure of Nokia’s Lagos office is the latest manifestation of a newly taken hard-line attitude to non-compliance from Nigerian authorities. The country’s Federal Inland Revenue Service announced last year that it would be cracking down on tax evaders by conducting regular audits of companies based in Nigeria.

IT companies have been especially affected by the new attitude, with South Africa-owned mobile operator hit by a large fine earlier this year, which was subsequently reduced.

Meanwhile, in August the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) issued a directive on remittance operations in a bid to reduce the number of unlicensed firms. The directive prevented a number of international money transfer companies from operating, with only Western Union, MoneyGram and Ria remaining approved.

The CBN eventually gave a number of firms leave to resume operations, a move that was welcome by global digital remittance service WorldRemit.

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