South Africa-based wireless operator MTN Group, which is present in 22 countries in Africa and the Middle East, yesterday reported that its consolidated subscriber base rose at its slowest rate for a year – increasing by 1.8% (4.1 million) quarter-on-quarter to reach 227.5 million at end-March 2015 – impacted by a ‘weaker macro-economic environment following the reduction in the price of oil in 2014 and continued price competition,’ said chief executive Sifiso Dabengwa. The growth rate is the slowest seen since it recorded a 1.1% net subscriber gain in the first three months of last year, although more positively the operator reported a 23.2% q-o-q rise in registered mobile money subscribers across 14 markets, to 27.4 million. Africa’s largest wireless operator also said that reported data revenue increased by 16.7% year-on-year, contributing 20.8% to total group revenue; organic data revenues increased 24% y-o-y.
The Group’s MTN Nigeria subsidiary showed ‘improved subscriber growth trends although revenue and minutes growth remains a challenge,’ increasing its total user base by 2.1% to 61.1 million on the back of new promotional deals, although call volumes fell due to rising inflation in the Nigerian economy and a subsequent fall in customer spending. In its home market, MTN South Africa has been cutting costs and exploring potential acquisitions as revenue shrinks and it continues to lag behind market leader Vodacom in terms of customer numbers. MTN said its mobile user base in South Africa, the operator’s second largest market behind Nigeria, was broadly unchanged at 28 million, although data sales in the country increased by 22% y-o-y.