MTN Group subscriber total reaches 170.6 million in 1Q 2012

South Africa-based MTN Group has reported that its consolidated subscriber base reached 170.57 million as at 31 March 2012, up 3.7% quarter-on-quarter. MTN’s local unit, MTN South Africa, contributed 13.3% of the group’s consolidated subscriber base in 1Q12, and ‘delivered a sound performance in a mature market’. As at end-March the South African cellco claimed 22.74 million subscribers, up 3.2% q-o-q, thanks to strong gains in the pre-paid segment, which contributed 18.73 million of the unit’s total. MTN credits the increased uptake to the continued success of the ‘MTN Zone’ promotion through ‘improved informal distribution channels’; the initiative allows subscribers access to a discounted call rate if they are in an area experiencing a low volume of MTN traffic. MTN South Africa remains the largest operation by subscribers in MTN’s South and East Africa (SEA) division.

Elsewhere, in MTN’s West and Central Africa (WECA) division, MTN Nigeria remains the group’s largest subsidiary in terms of customer numbers, claiming 42.90 million users in 1Q12, or 25.1% of the group’s consolidated base. Net connections of 1.26 million were negatively impacted by a nationwide trade union strike in January as well as by aggressive competition. MTN Nigeria has warned that slower net connections at the beginning of the year resulted in a marginal loss of market share, although corrective measures enabled it to increase network capacity and improve net connections later in the quarter. Although no clarity has yet been provided regarding the deadline for SIM registration in Nigeria, MTN says that the harmonising of MTN Nigeria’s customer database with that of the Nigerian Communications Commission’s (NCC’s) is ‘in progress’. Meanwhile, MTN Irancell continues to lead the way in MTN’s Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, with 36.83 million subscribers at end-March, or 21.6% of the group’s consolidated user base. In addition, MTN Irancell claimed a total of 213,000 WiMAX subscribers at the end of 1Q12.

MTN’s press statement concludes: ‘The group continues to prioritise key initiatives to better manage the business as consumer trends evolve and competition intensifies … Mobile Money has now been launched in 13 countries. At the end of March 2012 MTN had 6.2 million Mobile Money subscribers. Initiatives to optimise costs continue to be rolled out and the centralised procurement initiative is showing solid progress. Network quality and capacity remains a key imperative for the group. The majority of the operations continued to aggressively roll out network and achieved satisfactory progress for the quarter.’