MTN Nigeria reported a year-on-year decline of 1.3 million mobile subscribers down to 70.2 million in its Q1 2022 results as it feels the effects of Nigeria's new laws for SIM registration, however, growth in services pushed it to profits.
In a statement, chief executive Karl Toriola said despite the drop in its overall base the operator maintained its growth trajectory.
Notably, in other financial metrics, the operator posted year-on-year growth (ending March) in service revenue which increased by 22% to NGN469.8 billion (US$1.1 billion). EBITDA grew 25.7% to NGN257.1 billion and profit after tax surged 31.3% to NGN96.8 billion.
MTN Nigeria counted 35.9 million active data users at the end of Q1 growing by 3.4 million year-on-year, with 1.6 million coming on from Q4. Active fintech service subscribers grew by 6.2 million to 10.7 million year-on-year, with 1.3 million coming online from last quarter.
“To enable the growth in subscribers and traffic, we continued to enhance the capacity of our network. In doing so, we frontloaded our CAPEX plan for the year, deploying CAPEX of NGN162.5 billion in the period to accommodate the sustained demand for data and accelerate the rollout of our 4G network, which now covers approximately 72% of the population and accounts for 76% of data traffic,” said Toriola.
“Our financial performance in the quarter was underpinned by strong commercial momentum, driving growth across our key revenue lines. Service revenue grew by 22%, in line with our medium-term growth guidance of ‘at least 20%’. This was led by growth in data and supported by voice, fintech and digital services.
The Nigerian government has been on a stringent campaign to get SIM cards registered which has forced citizens to queue up for hours at registration points to ensure they can continue with paid services. The government even ordered operators to block unregistered SIM cards from making calls.