South Africa-based mobile giant MTN Group reported today (3 May) that its consolidated multinational subscriber base increased by 1.9%, or 4.1 million net additions, in the three months to 31 March 2018 when compared with the previous quarter, boosting the total to 221.311 million people served in 22 countries across Africa and the Middle East. In a quarterly update, the emerging market mobile operator said that consolidated service revenue increased by 9.1% and group data revenue rose by 26.9%, aided in part by a 3.9% improvement in active MTN Mobile Money customers, to 22.7 million. In addition, the carrier noted that voice traffic (billable minutes) increased by 24.2% and total data traffic surged 56.7%.
‘During the quarter, the group continued to focus on operational execution across our markets, leveraging off the strong network investment of the past few years,’ said MTN Group president and CEO Rob Shuter. ‘This allowed us to deliver an acceleration in service revenue growth to 9.1%, led by MTN Nigeria and MTN Ghana,’ he added. In Nigeria, MTN increased its service revenue by 14.4% in the period under review, while the EBITDA margin increased to 41.8%. The subsidiary reported net additions of 2.3 million in 1Q18, following on from the two million net additions reported in 4Q17 as ‘the business benefited from the increase in our SIM registration footprint’. Further, MTN said it is focused on retaining its dominant position in the country and rolled out 298 3G and 174 4G sites in the quarter; the 4G rollout remains centred on the top ten cities across the country. Meanwhile in Ghana, the unit ‘benefited from the improving macroeconomic environment and stable competitive environment,’ its quarterly update said, with MTN Ghana adding a net 484,000 user accounts in 1Q18 to reach a total of 16.2 million subscribers. Within this figure, active MoMo (mobile money) subscribers increased to 7.4 million and there were 6.6 million active data subscribers. Shuter also said the company had made good progress on the IPO processes in Nigeria and Ghana, which it aimed to conclude during 2018.
Elsewhere, in its home market MTN Group says it is engaging with the South African authorities on the proposed amendments to the Electronic Communications Act ‘to find a solution that would best deliver the most cost-effective coverage for South Africans as well as much needed resources for the national fiscus’. MTN South Africa recorded low single-digit service revenue growth, but said that its improving quarter-on-quarter performance followed a ‘more muted performance in the prior quarter’ (4Q17). Service growth was supported by data and digital revenue, which increased by 12.1% and 17.7% respectively, while outgoing voice revenue decreased by 9.2%. Data traffic increased by 49%, supported by a 14% increase in active data users. The South African unit closed out March 2018 with a total of 29.806 million mobile subscribers, of which 5.489 million are on post-paid contracts.