MTN still losing subscribers in South Africa

MTN Group has reported a small climb in subscribers to 227.5 million in the first quarter of 2015, though the company’s South African operation has remained flat.

In its quarterly update for the period ended 31 March 2015, MTN Group noted a 1.8% climb in subscribers across all of its 22 operations in Africa and the Middle East, with a much bigger jump in data revenue.

“We continue to focus on our non-voice services which remain the key driver of the Group’s revenue growth,” said MTN Group CEO, Safiso Dabengwa.

“Data revenue increased by 16.7% as we expanded our 3G and LTE networks and stimulated the adoption of data-enabled devices and smartphones.”

Overall data revenue now makes up 20.8% of total group revenue, the operator said.

South African operations

MTN South Africa recorded “muted” subscriber growth, ending the quarter with 28 million subscribers – the same rounded figure as the previous quarter.

However, local subscribers were actually down a fraction of a percent (0.1%), with MTN SA having lost approximately 35,000 subscribers in the quarter.

The post-paid and pre-paid subscriber base declined marginally recording 5.4 million and 22.6 million subscribers, respectively.

“This was impacted by seasonality, some short-term challenges in the distribution channel and lower handset sales,” MTN said.

“Despite this, the operation remained competitive increasing total minutes by more than 100% YoY. Total minutes declined 6.1% QoQ, impacted by seasonality.”

Data revenue showed strong growth of 21.8% YoY and now contributes 27.7% to MTN SA’s total revenue.

This was supported by “attractive data promotions”, including data bundles and segmented e-journey communications, MTN said.

Data usage increased 62.6% YoY, while data users increased 18.1% YoY to 17.2 million. Blended ARPU, however, decreased by 4.8% to R87.

MTN South Africa said it would continue to focus on cost “containment initiatives” and optimising its operating model.

Other operations

In its other African operations, MTN Nigeria increased its subscriber base by 2,1% to 61,1 million and maintained subscriber market share during the

Data revenue continued to grow strongly increasing by 17,0% YoY and now contributes 19,7% to total revenue, the group said.

MTN Irancell, MTN Ghana, MTN Cameroon, MTN Uganda and MTN Ivory Coast all saw growth in subscriber numbers and a jump in data revenue.

The only other countries to see a drop in subscribers, aside from South Africa, were MTN Sudan and MTN Syria.

Looking at the Group’s Mobile Money platform, registered Mobile Money subscribers across the Group was up 23.2% to 27.4 million users across 14 operations.

On Monday MTN and Vodacom announced a partnership that would allow money transfers between MTN’s Mobile Money and Vodacom’s M-pesa platforms in East African markets.

In mid-morning trade on the JSE, MTN shares were trading slightly higher at R228.50, giving the company a market cap of just over R418 billion.

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MTN still losing subscribers in South Africa