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MTN SA posts muted subscriber growth

By Gugu Lourie

MTN SA results for the first quarter in 2015 show that there isn’t much operational fuel in the company as the subscriber base hasn’t risen much, but as expected data users rose 18.1% to 17.2m.

During the three months to end-March 2014, MTN SA had 28m subscribers, showing a weak quarter and data usage increased 62,6%.

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

The company added that it continues to focus on cost containment.

MTN’s footprint spans 22 countries across Africa and the Middle East, a far more extensive footprint than that of rival Vodacom.

The group reported a satisfactory subscriber growth of 1,8% quarter-on-quarter, adding 4,1m subscribers, to 227,5m total customers.

“MTN’s results for the quarter were impacted by a weaker macro-economic environment following the reduction in the price of oil in 2014 and continued price competition. MTN Nigeria is improved subscriber growth trends although  revenue and minutes growth remains a challenge. While South African operation’s subscriber growth was impacted by  seasonality and some operational challenges, revenue growth was encouraging. We continue to focus on our non-voice services which remain the key driver of the Group’s revenue growth,” said MTN Group CEO, Sifiso Dabengwa.

The South African-based mobile phone operator said its Nigerian operation increased its subscriber base by 2,1% to 61,1m.  Total minutes on the network declined by 2,0%  impacted largely by seasonality,  and declined 2,4% year-on-year mainly due to increasing inflation and reduced consumer spend.

While MTN Irancell increased its subscriber base by 1,1% to 44,4m in a highly penetrated market.

“The operation remains strongly focused on the expansion of 3G and 4G networks as well as providing attractive  bundled data packages. At the end of the quarter MTN Irancell business had 2,959 3G sites on air and 993 LTE sites  on air,” said MTN.

MTN Syria continues to operate in extremely challenging conditions reporting a decline in its subscriber base by 1,9% to 5,7 million. “Security, power restrictions, staff retention and diesel availability remain some of the key challenges,” firm said.

MTN Ghana continued to perform well despite a weak macro-economic environment. The operation grew its subscriber base 2,6% to 14,2 million, largely attributable to attractive “win a prize” promotions encouraging customers to talk, text and browse.

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