The United Arab Emirates (UAE) fixed and mobile operator Etisalat, which has international operations across the Middle East, Africa and Asia, has reported a 3% year-on-year drop in its revenues for the first quarter, to AED12.46 billion (USD3.39 billion). The fall was blamed on increasing competition in overseas markets such as Pakistan and Morocco. More positively, however, net income was up by 5% at AED2.09 billion, boosted by the group’s domestic business and lower foreign exchange losses. The UAE unit saw a 5% increase in first-quarter revenues to AED7.87 billion, while the international operations reported a 14% drop in sales to AED4.71 billion. Although the Egyptian unit Etisalat Misr claimed a 5% increase in revenues in local currency, the depreciation of the Egyptian pound against the UAE dirham led to a 53% slide in its reported sales.
Etisalat claimed 10.59 million mobile customers in the UAE at the end of March, up from 10.07 million a year earlier, while the fixed broadband base climbed from 1.07 million to 1.11 million. The Maroc Telecom operations had 54.5 million subscribers across its entire African footprint, up from 53.1 million in March 2016, while the Egyptian user total rose from 94 million to 98 million over the same period. There was a drop in subscribers in Pakistan though, from 24.9 million to 21.7 million, due to a shift in focus towards higher value customers. Nigeria also saw subscriber losses in the year to 31 March 2017, from 21.8 million to 19.5 million, with the fall attributed to pricing competition and a SIM registration programme.