The Nigeria division of South African telecoms company, MTN, has announced that it is closing shop until further notice, following reprisal attacks targeting its offices and facilities in Nigeria by irate and opportunistic locals.

The retaliatory attacks on a host of South African businesses in Nigeria arrive on the heels of persistent xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other foreign nationals in South Africa.

The latest attacks in South Africa led to the torching and looting of over 50 shops--most of whom belonged to Nigerians.

MTN condemns violence, prejudice

“Over the last day, our facilities, customers and some of our stakeholders have been the subject of attacks in retaliation for the ongoing xenophobia situation in South Africa. We have confirmed reports of attacks in Lagos, Ibadan and Uyo.

An MTN signpost. The firm retains a chunk of the Nigerian telecom market (MTN Uganda)
An MTN signpost. The firm retains a chunk of the Nigerian telecom market (MTN Uganda)

“While we remain committed to providing uninterrupted services, the safety and security of our customers, staff and partners is our primary concern. All MTN stores and service centres will therefore be closed as a precaution until further notice.

“MTN condemns any acts of violence, prejudice and xenophobia and remains absolutely committed to ensuring a peaceful, harmonious and respectful relationship with all communities in Nigeria and across Africa.

“We are engaging all relevant authorities in this regard and urge them to act swiftly to reduce tensions both in South Africa and Nigeria. We will provide further updates as and when possible”, the statement from the telecom company read.

Violence in the land

Shops belonging to the South African chain, Shoprite, have also been looted in the past 48hours by Nigerians. 

There are about 120 South African businesses in Nigeria, with a market worth of about N6trillion.

Nigeria is MTN’s biggest market, with 58 million users in 2018.

President Ramaphosa and President Buhari held talks in Yokohama, Japan shortly before the latest xenophobic attack (Presidency)
President Ramaphosa and President Buhari held talks in Yokohama, Japan shortly before the latest xenophobic attack (Presidency)
Twitter/PresidencyZA

MTN Nigeria also accounts for a third of the core profit of the parent South African firm. 

Presidents Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa and Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria have issued statements to say they are working hard to end the crisis.