Johannesburg-based African operator MTN Group says that as at 30 September 2013, it recorded 203.762 million subscribers across its operations spanning 22 countries across Africa and the Middle East, up 1.1% quarter-on-quarter from 201.534 million at end-June. However, it noted a slowdown in subscriber growth due to increased price competition and registration regulations. Commenting on the latest operational results, MTN Group president and CEO, Sifiso Dabengwa, said: ‘The third quarter has been characterised by lower than anticipated subscriber growth following ongoing price competition and subscriber registration requirements across a number of markets. Subscriber growth was limited to 1.1% quarter-on-quarter, mainly impacted by disconnections in Nigeria related to registration requirements, slower than expected subscriber growth in South Africa, as well as slower subscriber growth in Iran. During the quarter, the group continued to focus on segmented competitive voice and data tariffs, and improving network quality to cater for increased traffic. Data and Mobile Money remain a key focus for the group, with traditional voice revenue under pressure. Data revenue for the group increased by 34.7% year-on-year, contributing 14.1% to total revenue, while Mobile Money subscribers increased 10.7% q-o-q to 13.4 million across 13 operations.’
MTN Group is active in Afghanistan, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Cyprus, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Republic, Iran, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of Congo (Congo Brazzaville), Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, South Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Uganda, Yemen and Zambia. In its home market, MTN reported a modicum of progress after a challenging first H1 2013, but expects conditions to remain challenging for the balance of 2013. The operation added 233,000 net new subscribers in the third quarter, bringing the total subscriber base to 25.235 million as at 30 September, attributable it said ‘to more competitive product offerings and focused marketing campaigns’. Meanwhile, MTN Nigeria delivered a ‘satisfactory’ performance, maintaining market share in a highly competitive sector, and growing its user base marginally to 55.596 million. The parent added that along with a focus on value added services (VAS), the Nigerian business has worked to improve network quality, with 812 2G and 497 3G sites added in the quarter.
In the Group’s Large Opco Cluster, MTN Irancell’s subscriber base declined by 1.7% q-o-q to 41.295 million, due to the weakening local economy in a fully penetrated market and increased promotional activities by its main competitor. MTN Ghana increased its subscriber base by 1.4% to 12.765 million subscribers, although it said net additions in the quarter were impacted by a clean-up of the subscriber base. Elsewhere, MTN Cameroon boosted its customer base by 7% to 8.160 million subscribers, MTN Cote d’Ivoire by 1.7% to 6.683 million, and MTN Uganda by 4.3% to 8.386 million. However, MTN Sudan’s subscriber base decreased marginally by 0.3% to 8.423 million, mainly due to the recently introduced subscriber registration programme; increased competition and a delay in site rollout, which also impacted on subscriber numbers. Furthermore, MTN says that whilst its Syrian business continues to operate in an extremely challenging environment, subscriber numbers increased by 5.1% to 5.787 million, and that encouragingly, ‘the negative revenue trends appear to have stabilised and the business recorded a 10.3% growth in revenue q-o-q, supported by an increase in tariffs’. Elsewhere, MTN Group’s Small Opco Cluster reported a total of 30.778 million subscribers, up 3.0% q-o-q from 29.876 million at end-June.