By John Ikani
One of Africa’s biggest mobile network operators, MTN has been accused of indirectly supporting an Iranian terrorist campaign.
In a US federal lawsuit filed Tuesday in New York, more than 50 Americans claim MTN and ZTE did business with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, even though they knew the transactions would help finance, arm and support the Iranian group’s terror campaign in neighbouring Iraq.
According to the suit, the deal aided the killings and injuries of thousands of Americans between 2011 and 2016.
The South African company has done business in parts of the world other carriers consider too risky, including Syria, Iran and Afghanistan. It has said it will sell its Middle East operations over the medium-to-long term.
A similar complaint was filed in 2019 by more than 150 Americans, who claim the company paid the Taliban not to attack its mobile phone towers in Afghanistan.
About MTN and ZTE
MTN formerly M-Cell is a South African multinational mobile telecommunications company, operating in many African and Asian countries.
Its head office is in Johannesburg. As of September 2020, MTN recorded 273.44 million subscribers, making it the ninth largest mobile network operator in the world, and the largest in Africa.
Active in over 20 countries, one-third of company revenue come from Nigeria, where it holds about 35% market share.
ZTE is a Chinese partially state-owned technology company that specializes in telecommunication.
It operates carrier networks, terminals, and telecommunication. Its core business is wireless, exchange, optical transmission, data telecommunications gear, telecommunications software, and mobile phones.
It also offers video on demand and streaming media. ZTE primarily sells products under its own name, but it is also an OEM. ZTE is one of the top five largest smartphone manufacturers in its home market.