African telecoms group MTN has been fined the equivalent of $8.5 million because it ran the IT for its Rwandan operation from an IT centre in neighbouring Uganda.


The MTN group said today that acknowledged receipt of fine notification from the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA).


The regulator said that it had told MTN twice in early 2011 “to exclude itself from all aspects of the regional IT shared services initiative, failure of which would be considered as a serious breach of its license obligations leading to appropriate measures in accordance with applicable laws”.


MTN said it had “been engaging with the regulator on this matter over the past four months”, and added: “MTN Rwanda is currently studying the official notification and will continue to engage with the regulator on this matter.”


In a statement signed by director general Coletha Ruhamya, RUSA said that despite the 2011 warnings, MTN Rwanda started work on using the Uganda IT hub in September 2013 “and on 26 October 2014 MTN Rwanda fully operationalised its IT services management under MTN Hub in Uganda”.


The Uganda hub is designed to provide IT services for MTN’s operations in south and east Africa, said MTN. A RURA official told Reuters: “They are punished for relocating their IT services outside Rwanda, and this was deliberate.”