KIGALI, May 17 (Reuters) - Rwanda's telecom industry regulator has fined MTN Rwanda, a division of South Africa's MTN Group 7 billion francs ($8.5 million) for running its IT services outside the country in breach of its licence.
The regulator said in a ruling posted on its website that MTN Rwanda was hosting its IT services hub in Uganda, which it had prohibited.
"They are punished for relocating their IT services outside Rwanda, and this was deliberate," Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority Spokesman Anthony Kulamba said.
MTN Rwanda says it is the central African country's leading mobile operator, with 4 million subscribers. It is 80 percent owned MTN Group while the remaining 20 percent is listed on the Rwanda Securities Exchange.
MTN Group said it had also received a notification about the fine.
"MTN has been engaging with the regulator on this matter over the past four months. MTN Rwanda is currently studying the official notification and will continue to engage with the regulator on this matter," it said in a statement.
Last year, MTN, which operates in 20 countries, set aside $600 million to pay a fine imposed by the Nigerian government for not disconnecting unregistered SIM cards. It paid 30 billion naira ($95.24 million) of this in March.
Other telecoms companies operating in Rwanda are Tigo, a unit of Millicom and Airtel Rwanda, a unit of India's Bharti Airtel. ($1 = 826.2200 Rwandan francs) ($1 = 315.0000 naira) (Reporting by Clement Uwiringiyimana; Editing by George Obulutsa and Jane Merriman)