24th October, 2013
South Africa’s MTN Group on Thursday reported a slower-than-expected one per cent increase in subscribers for the third quarter.
The development was due to strong competition in key markets such as Nigeria and Iran.
MTN, Africa’s largest mobile operator, said in a statement it had 203.8 million subscribers at the end of September, from 201.5 million three months earlier.
MTN, which operates in 22 countries in Africa and the Middle East, said the number of subscribers in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, increased by 0.6 per cent to 55.6 million.
“The third quarter has been characterised by lower-than-anticipated subscriber growth following ongoing price competition and subscriber registration requirements across a number of markets,” CEO Sifiso Dabengwa said in a statement.
MTN said conditions would remain challenging in its home market of South Africa where it faces tough competition from local rivals Vodacom and unlisted Cell C.
South Africa’s telecoms regulator said this month it planned to cut by 75 per cent the fees mobile operators could charge rivals to use their network.
Analysts have said the change would be a blow to MTN’s revenue.
The company said it continued to discuss the proposed changes with the regulator.
MTN said the number of South African subscribers increased by just less than one per cent to 25.2 million.
Iran saw a decrease of 1.7 per cent to 41.3 million, hurt by a weakening economy and an increased push by MTN’s main competitor.