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MTN sees growth in African operations

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa-M-Cell, the listed telecommunications group that owns 100 percent of MTN, announced that turnover for the last 12 months has risen by 49 percent to US$1.24 billion. Contributions from operations outside of South Africa have risen to 19 percent of group revenue.

“Having proved our ability to build and operate successful businesses in Swaziland, Uganda and Rwanda, all of which were profitable inside two years, we turned our attention to Cameroon, and more recently, Nigeria,” Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Paul Edwards said.

Edwards added that the Nigeria operation had performed beyond expectations. Having paid US$285 million for one of four GSM licenses in February 2001, the company was able to launch services in Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja by September of the same year.

“This is a remarkable achievement, considering the lack of a stable electricity supply, inter-city fibre-optic links and many other challenges,” said Edwards.

“As of the end of March, MTN Nigeria had signed up 327,000 active subscribers, almost doubling business plan estimates of 174,000. Since March, the number of subscribers had continued to grow rapidly to close on 420,000,” said Lazarus Zim, managing director of MTN International.

MTN Nigeria’s total revenue of US$1.32 million was driven by higher than expected average revenue per user (ARPU) levels, which were around US$60 per subscriber per month, excluding connection fees. Zim added that ARPUs would inevitably decline as the company penetrates deeper into the market.

After a bumpy start, MTN Cameroon has seen its subscribers in this mainly French-speaking country increase by 234 percent to 224,000. Currently, MTN is running neck and neck with its competitor Orange in numbers of subscribers.

“With our current focus on increasing ARPUs, MTN Cameroon is well placed to make a strong contribution to EBITDA earnings in the new financial year,” said Zim.

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