Africa’s largest telecommunications company by revenue, South Africa’s MTN Group, today reported revenue growth of 6.4% in 2014 to ZAR146.15 billion (USD12.43 billion) and an 8.9% rise in net profit, as data revenue growth and a recovery in its home market helped offset a weaker-than-expected performance in Nigeria, its biggest single market. The group said data revenue increased by 33.2% in the year, to contribute 18.7% to total revenue at year-end, while MTN South Africa’s performance provided ‘clear evidence in the second half’ of a sustained turnaround in the unit’s fortunes. However, MTN Group said the Nigerian operation had underperformed, with revenue there growing by only 12.1%.
TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that MTN Group revealed plans in May 2014 to kick-start its geographical expansion in Southeast Asia, having to-date focused primarily on developing its footprint in the Middle East and Africa (MEA). The carrier is mindful of the need to increase smartphone penetration and boost data revenue, including mobile banking, outside South Africa, where it trails rival Vodacom Group in terms of subscriber numbers. The company is also facing price competition and regulatory pressure in markets such as Nigeria. ‘MTN Nigeria’s performance was below expectations, impacted largely by regulatory determinations and economic pressures as well as operational challenges,’ the company said. ‘Some level of uncertainty remains with regards to the implications of the oil price and currency fluctuations, which may lead to slower economic growth.’ Nigeria has 59.9 million MTN subscribers, compared with 28 million in South Africa. The company expects to add 4.75 million more in Nigeria in 2015, up from 3.1 million last year.
Group EBITDA increased by 10.2% year-on-year to ZAR65.52 billion, as the company made further progress in its cost optimisation efforts, which it says supported a 1.5 percentage points expansion in the EBITDA margin to 44.8% for the year. Full-year capital expenditure was ZAR25.24 billion, 16.3% lower than the previous year, despite efforts made last year to roll out 3,669 2G, 6,491 largely co-located 3G and 684 4G sites to facilitate increased voice and data usage on the network.
The South Africa-based company said that its aggregate subscriber base increased by 7.5% year-on-year to 223.4 million in the year ended 31 December 2014. In addition, at the end of December MTN had 51.9 million 3G-enabled devices on its networks, an increase of 30.4% on the previous year. Total subscriber numbers are forecast to reach 240.9 million this year across its 22 markets in Africa and the Middle East, an increase of 17.5 million.