MTN Group Suffers 7% Subscriber Loss in Nigeria

MTN Group saw its Nigerian subscriber base decrease by 6.9 per cent in the first quarter of 2016 following recent subscriber registration requirements.

MTN Nigeria reported a 6.9 per cent decrease in its subscriber base in the first quarter of 2016, and compared to Q4 2015; with subscribers now totalling 57 million. Subscribers also ebbed away in a number of its other markets.

The company said this decrease is a result of the disconnection of 4.5 million subscribers at the end of February 2016 related to the ongoing subscriber registration process; but said it believes it has dealt with all the subscribers who were considered to be non-compliant. MTN said its operational focus is now on reconnecting subscribers through proactive engagement and winback offers.

“During the first quarter of 2016, the Group was impacted by the ‘after shocks’ of the events that took place towards the end of 2015, mainly the subscriber registration process in many of the countries in which we operate, with Nigeria being the largest,” said MTN Group executive chairman, Phuthuma Nhleko.

“In order to mitigate any future regulatory challenges, the Group took an exceptionally conservative stance by disconnecting all subscribers who could possibly be deemed to be non-compliant. This has had a significant unfavourable impact on total subscriber growth and revenue in Q1 16. Nonetheless, we believe this resolve to address compliance matters decisively, has put the Group on a solid footing as regards the subscriber registration process and regulatory matters in general, Nhleko said.

“Further, the Group has undertaken a number of ‘back to the basics’ structural and operational initiatives that will hopefully reset and position the Group for future growth in a rapidly evolving sector. Subscriber growth was also impacted by the weak macroenvironment, particularly in those markets reliant on oil exports. The trading environment was highly competitive.”

MTN also saw its subscribers dwindle in a number of its other markets. In the Southern and East Africa region, in South Africa subscriber numbers were down by 1.7 per cent; in Rwanda by 2.5 per cent; Zambia by 1.3 per cent; and in South Sudan by 6.2 per cent. On the other hand, MTN Uganda attracted a 7.8 per cent in subscribers, on the back of attractive bundled offers, according to the operator. There was a loss of mobile money subscribers following registration requirements in 2015.

In West and Central Africa, in addition to the Nigerian losses, in Ivory Coast subscribers decreased by 2.5 per cent; in Benin 2.2 per cent; Conakry 5.2 per cent; and Congo Brazzaville by 3.3 per cent. Ghana proved one of the success stories for the region, registering 4.6 per cent growth in the first quarter. Liberia followed with 3.9 per cent growth.

In its Middle East and North African operations, Syria saw a 3 per cent decline in subscribers; Yemen a 0.3 per cent drop; Afghanistan 1.2 per cent; and Cyprus 2.4 per cent. Conversely Iran and Sudan recorded growth. MTN said its Syrian, Yemeni, and Afghan operations remain profitable despite having to operate in “highly challenging environments impacting the region’s subscriber growth”.

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