TELECOMS

MTN reaches the 100 million subscriber milestone

The MTN Group has reached the 100 million subscriber mark in its drive to become the world’s leading telecommunications service provider in emerging markets.

With a telecommunications network that covers a population of approximately 500 million, the 100 million subscriber achievement means that 1 in 5 people in MTN’s 21 markets in Africa and the Middle East is an MTN subscriber. The Group recorded 98,203,000 subscribers at 31 March 2009 - up 8% from 31 December 2008 - touching the all-important 100 million mark in April this year as the telecoms operator signed up more customers.

MTN Group President and CEO Phuthuma Nhleko says: “For a 15-year-old company operating amid increased competitive intensity in all its markets, this is a most satisfactory performance by MTN. This affirms our leadership position in many areas of our business”. “MTN’s success is also attributable to a business model that has included sound financial investment, strong corporate governance, effective management and corporate social responsibility,” explained Mr. Nhleko. He paid tribute to MTN’s culturally diverse staff of over 40 nationalities across the company’s markets, saying their “can-do” spirit and “innovative mindset” had placed the MTN Group in a strong competitive position.

The analysis below is presented on a regional basis. The proportional subscriber contribution between the regions remains relatively unchanged with that at 31 December 2008. South and East Africa (SEA) region contributed 26% (December 2008: 27%) of the Group’s total subscribers while West and Central Africa (WECA) and Middle East and North Africa (MENA) contributed 45% (December 2008: 44%) and 29% (December 2008: 29%), respectively.

The SEA region increased its subscriber base by 4% for the quarter. The South African operation contributes 69% to the region’s subscribers, increasing 2% to 17,428,000 for the quarter ended 31 March 2009. The modest increase in subscribers was due to the mix of seasonal trends, weakening economic conditions and aggressive competition. Uganda increased its subscriber base by 13% due to the continued success of MTN Zone.

The WECA region increased its subscriber base by 10% for the quarter. The strong growth in the region was primarily due to growth in Nigeria which contributes 59% to the region’s subscribers and recorded a 12% increase in its subscriber base to 25,908,000. This was mainly due to continued improvements in network quality and capacity with 173 base stations added in the quarter. Ghana increased its subscriber base by 5% despite fierce competition. Both Cameroon and Cote d’Ivoire increased their subscriber bases by 7% to 3,824,000 and 3,810,000, respectively.

The MENA region recorded a 9% increase in subscribers for the quarter. This was due to continued growth from the Iran operation, which contributes 63% to the region’s subscribers and increased its subscribers by 14% to 18,252,000. The disappointing slowdown of subscriber acquisitions in Sudan and Syria is mainly attributed to the economic downturn in the respective countries. Sudan increased its subscriber base to 2,658,000 while Syria experienced negative growth of 3% to 3,428,000 subscribers.

ARPU: MTN South Africa’s blended ARPU decreased by 6%. This is as a result of increased penetration into lower market segments, seasonal trends and a slowdown in consumer spending. Iran’s ARPU remain relatively stable notwithstanding seasonal trends and increased penetration. The decline of many local currencies against the US$ has negatively affected ARPU trends. Larger operations including Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Syria and Sudan experienced significantly more resilience in local currency ARPU than reflected in the reported US$ number.

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