Connecting Africa is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 3099067.


MTN dominates market share in over half its operations

Article Image
MTN has the biggest market share in 13 out of the 21 countries where it operates mobile networks in Africa and the Middle East.

This is according to MTN's five-year review 2019 document published last week. The review shows that back in 2015 the pan-African operator had the biggest market share in 15 countries, but that dropped to 14 countries in 2017 and then to 13 in 2019.

MTN also published specific stats for a few countries which showed it had lost market share in its home country of South Africa over the five years, but it had gained traction in its largest operation of Nigeria and consistent performer Ghana.

MTN dominates in Ghana with a market share of 56%, up by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2% from 2015 when its market share was 52%. In Nigeria its market share was just shy of 50% in 2019, growing from 45% in 2015.

Ivory Coast and Uganda had both seen CAGR growth of 2% over the five years, with market shares in 2019 of 34% and 55%, respectively. Sudan also saw a slight tick up from 34% in 2015 to 35% in 2019.

However, the telco's market share in South Africa dropped by a CAGR of 5% over the five years from a high of 35% in 2016 to just 27% in 2019.

Middle Eastern countries like Iran and Syria also saw reductions. Iran dropped from a market share of 47% in 2015 to 43% in 2019, and Syria's market share fell from 42% in 2015 to 37% in 2019. Cameroon also saw a drop from 56% five years ago to 49% in 2019.

MTN market share per country
Stats courtesy of MTN's five-year review 2019 document.
Stats courtesy of MTN's five-year review 2019 document.

Overall, the group has added 18.3 million subscribers over the last five years, despite a major drop in 2017. At the end of 2019, MTN had 250.8 million users across its 21 operations.

MTN's ambition is to get to 300 million subscribers, with 200 million active data users and 100 million digital and Mobile Money (MoMo) users.

MTN Nigeria's subscriber numbers grew by 3 million overall over the five years, despite dropping 10 million customers between 2016 and 2017 when it faced strict subscriber registration requirements in the country. The lucrative operation regained subscribers in 2018 and 2019, bringing numbers up to 64 million at the end of last year.

Ghana also saw good five-year growth, from 16 million customers in 2015 to 20 million in 2019. Ivory Coast and Uganda also grew their bases by 4 million over the five years. Iran's subscribers only grew by 1 million over the five years while Syria's user numbers stayed steady at 6 million over the entire period.

MTN South Africa was the only operation, out of the nine disclosed, that saw a subscriber drop over the five-year period. MTN South Africa lost 2 million customers in that timeframe, dropping from 31 million users in 2015 to 29 million in 2019.

MTN subscribers per country
Stats courtesy of MTN's five-year review 2019 document.
Stats courtesy of MTN's five-year review 2019 document.

— Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa

Innovation hub


Hot startup of the month: SA's FlexClub

South African startup FlexClub has launched a managed marketplace that helps independent drivers on digital platforms become vehicle owners.


Econet and X's Project Taara join forces to connect Africa

Econet Group and Google X's Project Taara are teaming up to deploy new high-speed Internet technology to communities across sub-Saharan Africa.

More Innovation hub

Latest video

More videos

AfricaCom perspectives


AfricaCom Interview: Onica Makwakwa on closing the digital gender gap

The Alliance for Affordable Internet's head of Africa, Onica Makwakwa, shares her views on how to narrow the digital gender gap and the challenges keeping women offline on the continent.


AfricaCom Interview: Tunde Fafunwa on how the ACIP is fighting COVID-19

Tunde Fafunwa from the UN Economic Commission for Africa explains how the Africa Communication and Information Platform (ACIP) is helping Africa's battle against COVID-19.


AfricaCom Interview: Temidayo Oniosun on Africa's space and satellite industry

Space in Africa founder, Temidayo Oniosun, shares his views on the challenges and opportunities in the African space and satellite industry.

More AfricaCom perspectives

Partner perspectives

SD-WAN and satellite – how MNOs and telcos can enjoy the best of both worlds
By Ofer Asif, SVP BizDev, marketing and strategy at Spacecom

Africa's mobile operators need better roaming monetization for growth
By Damion Rose, product manager for Mobile Signaling and Roaming Solutions at BICS

How Africa's operators are driving socio-economic development
By Clémentine Fournier, VP Sales Africa at BICS

All Partner Perspectives

Industry announcements

More Industry announcements

Upcoming events

Africa Green ICT Forum
December 2, 2020
Virtual Event
More Upcoming events

Flash poll

All polls

Archived webinars

AfricaCom 2020 Digital Symposium - Day 2

Session One

Mobile Money 2.0: the Bright Future of Mobile Financial Service Innovation
Date: 08/20/20 @ 11:00 A.M. SAST

Speaker: Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa

Africa was the birthplace of Mobile Money and while it continues to rise in popularity, the industry is quickly evolving and launching more mobile-based financial services every day. In this Connecting Africa online event, local analysts and industry stakeholders will discuss how telcos are disrupting the financial services space and what the rise of Mobile Money 2.0 will look like for Africa.

  • From cash to mobile: heading towards a cashless society
  • Expanding MFS offerings beyond mobile money transfers
  • MNOs vs banks vs fintechs: an evolving competitive landscape
  • Unconnected and unbanked: fintech to improve financial inclusion
  • The rise of micro-loans and insurance through mobile platforms

12:15 P.M. - 12:30 P.M. BREAK

Session Two

Connecting the Next Billion: Strategies for Getting Africa On-Grid
Date 08/20/20 @ 12:30 P.M. SAST

Speaker: Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa

Africa has the fastest growing population in the world and also the youngest, with 60% of Africans under the age of 25. It is clear that the next billion connected are going to be the mobile-only generation. This digital symposium will bring industry experts together to discuss Africa’s digital divide and how to get devices into the hands of young Africans and empower them to join the digital revolution.

  • Who’s Driving? The role of government & regulator, private tech companies, and public-private partnerships
  • Device affordability: are we reaching a tipping point?
  • Status check: Satellite vs Fiber and the enduring infrastructure gap
  • Exploring the wider societal and economic benefits of a connected, digitally literate continent

More Webinars


Safaricom Spark Fund Portfolio

Infographics archive


AfricaCom 2019 Preview

Slideshow archive

Like us on Facebook

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign Up