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MTN, the largest mobile operator in Africa by subscribers, said on Thursday that new SIM registration regulations in Nigeria resulted in the loss of 2.3-million subscribers in the six months to June.

Nigeria is MTN’s largest and most lucrative market, but has been a headache for the SA telecoms company since 2015.

In December 2020, the Nigerian Communications Commission suspended the sale and activation of new SIMs, directing operators to update registration records with national identification numbers for every SIM in Nigeria. However, a ban on new SIM activations was lifted in April and MTN expects subscriber growth to normalise over time.

MTN had a total of 277-million subscribers during the review period spread across 21 markets in Africa, which it considers a growth engine.

Group headline earnings per share (heps) dropped 10% to R3.87, affected by non-operational items that included Covid-19 donations to the AU for vaccines and the Coalition Against Covid-19 in Nigeria. Excluding these items, adjusted heps increased 31.5%.

Group service revenue rose 19.7% to R81.9bn, led by growth of 9.3% in MTN SA, 23.8% in MTN Nigeria and 25.5% in MTN Ghana.

Voice revenue was up 8.9%, supported by growth in voice traffic of 12.3% year on year. The group said the performance was also supported by well-executed customer value management initiatives and segmented customer propositions.

Data revenue expanded by 32.2% on the back of a 56.4% increase in data usage, with sustained levels of online demand brought about by the effects of the pandemic.

Fintech revenue rose 39.7%. The number of active MoMo users increased by 2.6-million to 48.9-million compared to December 2020, generating monthly average revenue per user of $1.3.



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