On the heels of their current financial problems in Nigeria, a commercial court in Uganda has ordered MTN Uganda to pay a sum of 2.3bn shillings (about $662,000) to EzeeMoney Limited for sabotaging its business.
This is close to GH₵86M, a fine accrued after MTN allegedly restricted its agents from working for other mobile money service providers.
It all started when EzeeMoney, which runs an e-money business, obtained a contract from MTN for the provision of digital transmission [E1] and 30 fixed telephone lines to carry out its mobile money business.
EzeeMoney then contracted Yo! Uganda Limited (YUL) to implement the service after Uganda Communications Commission, the regulator, approved it on December 2012, to use the 7711 short code to enable its customers to subscribe for e-money services.
But in 2013, MTN canceled the contract, saying EzeeMoney was a direct competitor to its mobile money business. Through AF Mpanga and company advocates, EzeeMoney went to court, saying MTN's action "restricted and distorted competition."
Justice Adonyo, who presided over the case, said MTN should pay Shs 800m to EzeeMoney in general damages for loss of business. It should also pay a penalty of Shs 1.5bn in punitive damages to deter not only MTN but also warn other companies against uncompetitive business tactics.