MTN Records 6.1m Mobile Subscribers in One Year


By Emma Okonji

MTN Nigeria achieved the highest turnover in mobile subscriber number for voice calls on its network in 2019, despite the challenges it passed through in the past two years.

The recent telecoms operators’ statistics released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), showed that MTN recorded 6.1 million mobile subscribers for voice calls in one year, which was the highest it had ever recorded since the commercial rollout of its services in 2001.

The closest to 6.1 million mobile subscribers it recorded in 2019, was a little above 5.2 million, which it recorded in 2013, about seven years ago.

Aside the high turnover in mobile subscriber number, the statistics also showed that MTN Nigeria recorded high volume in data subscriptions in 2019, to reach an active data subscription number of 25.2 million, which is an increase by 6.5 million.

The increased figures in voice and data subscriptions, placed MTN Nigeria as the largest telecoms operator in Nigeria, with a total number of 68.7 million mobile subscribers as at December 2019, a position it has maintained since the rollout of GSM services in Nigeria in 2001.

Globacom, the third entrant into the Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) space, was the second largest telecoms operator by subscriber number in the last three years.

The recent NCC’s statistics, which was published on its website, showed that Globacom had 51.7 million mobile subscribers as at December 2019, making it the second largest telecoms operator after MTN, which has 68.7 million mobile subscribers. Airtel was ranked the third largest telecoms operator, with mobile subscriber number of 50.1 million, followed by 9mobile, which has 13.7 million mobile subscribers on its network.

As at December 2019, the total number of mobile subscribers across all telecoms network, is put at 184.7 million, according to NCC statistics.

MTN, had last year and penultimate year, faced a lot of challenges that threatened its continued operation in Nigeria. It had a running battle with the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) over tax issues and repatriated funds respectively. In 2018, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), forced MTN to close offices nationwide, when it picket MTN offices across the country for breaching labour laws, local content law and for security issues. Despite these challenges, MTN came out stronger to achieve 6.1 million mobile subscriber number in 2019, which is the highest since its inception in delivering telecoms services in Nigeria in 2001.

Speaking about the strategies used in attaining the feat, Chief Executive Officer of MTN Nigeria, Mr. Ferdi Moolman, said: “In the third quarter, we focused on several initiatives to enhance coverage and drive data usage penetration. These initiatives include optimising frequencies, expanding our 4G network coverage with over 6,000 additional sites leveraging 800MHz spectrum and repositioning our commercial data offerings.”

Our enterprise business segment continued to deliver solid results, with revenue growth of 20.3 per cent, Moolman added.

According to him, “Despite a challenging operating environment, we continued to deliver double-digit growth in service revenue in line with our medium-term guidance. Voice revenue growth remained healthy, and data revenue continued to accelerate, supporting a 12.6 per cent increase in service revenue with an acceleration in growth to 14.0 per cent year-on-year (YoY) in Q4 2019.”

He further said: “Following the completion of the SIM re-registration exercise in Q3 2019, we recorded 2.7 million net additions in Q4. In total, we added 6.1 million new subscribers to our network in2019. Although the last quarter is usually seasonally strong, service revenue growth of 14 per cent in Q4 outpaced the seasonal effect.”