South Africa-based operator group MTN saw a six per cent annual growth in total subscribers to 233 million, according to its Q3 quarterly update, despite challenges in its biggest market by this metric – Nigeria.
CEO Sifiso Dabengwa (pictured) talked up the group’s performance on the home front and pointed to a recent turnaround in Nigeria, but also sounded a warning: “Aggressive price competition, weakening macroeconomic conditions in most of our markets and unfavourable exchange rate movements continued to impact financial performance for the quarter.”
MTN does not disclose profit and loss figures in its quarterly updates.
The company grew its total base by six per cent, compared to the year-ago period, and by 0.9 per cent quarter-on-quarter. Its largest market is Nigeria where it has 62.5 million subscribers, followed by South Africa with 29 million subscribers.
In Nigeria, the total base declined by 0.5 per cent over the last three months, as a result of the disconnection of a massive 5.1 million subscribers at the end of August. The move was in line with industry-wide regulatory registration requirements. To date, 3.4 million of these subscribers have been reconnected.
“While management continues to engage with the regulator, performance continues to be impacted by ongoing regulatory restrictions,” the company said.
In addition, MTN faced operational problems in Nigeria during the first half of 2015, which it says are now behind it. There has been a “significant improvement” in network quality and more competitive offerings put in place. The new position of chief operations officer has been established to reinforce the management team.
In its home market of South Africa, the base increased by 2 per cent over the last three months, mainly as a result of a fast-growing prepaid base. But postpaid subscriber numbers actually declined over the same period.
In both markets, data demand is growing steeply and the group is investing in 3G and 4G infrastructure to handle the additional bandwidth.