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.

Business of Tech

Nigerian SIM registrations bite into MTN subs

Article Image
MTN Nigeria lost 5 million mobile subscribers in the first quarter of 2021 due to regulatory restrictions on new SIM sales and activations and general customer churn in the West African nation.

That is according to MTN Nigeria's results for the quarter ended March 31, 2021, which showed mobile customers dropping from 76.5 million at the end of December 2020 to 71.5 million by the end of March 2021.

MTN Nigeria's active data users also declined by 71,000 to 32.5 million. Despite this, MTN saw data traffic ramp up by 86.7%, with a 48.5% increase in usage (MB per user) from the existing base.

"The improvement in data services was supported by the completion of our acquisition and activation of an additional 800MHz spectrum, enabling us to further increase traffic by 10% and enhance throughput by 79%," said MTN Nigeria CEO Karl Toriola in a statement.

Registration rigmarole

Toriola said that by April 30, 2021, about 35 million MTN subscribers had submitted their National Identification Numbers (NINs), representing about 50% of its subscriber base and 63% of service revenue.

This as the deadline for telcos to link customer SIM cards to NINs is coming up on May 6, 2021.

"We are also actively supporting the Government's NIN enrolment programme, with 182 points of enrolment active across the country. We are working with [Nigerian Identity Management Commission] to increase the enrolment centres to provide an access point for as many Nigerian as possible," he said.

In December 2020, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) suspended the sale and activation of new SIMs. It then directed all operators to update their SIM registration records with valid NINs for all subscribers.

The Nigerian government wants NINs linked to customer SIM cards as a way to try to stop criminals from using unregistered SIMs.

At first, Nigerians were given until the end of December 2020 to present their NINs but that was later extended to February, then April and then May, to accommodate logistical challenges.

Revenue ramp up

Despite the subscriber declines, MTN Nigeria increased its service revenue by 17.2% year-on-year (YoY) to 385.2 billion naira (US$942 million) for the quarter, supported by the growth of 42.6% in data revenue and 8% in voice revenue.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) grew by 19.1% YoY to N204.5 billion ($500 million).

"Digital revenue grew by 101% and fintech revenue by 28.5% as customers continued to adopt more digital products and services, a trend accelerated by the pandemic," Toriola added.

At the end of the first quarter, MTN had 449,100 registered Mobile Money (MoMo) agents and 4.6 million fintech customers.

The volume of transactions processed was over 24 million in the quarter, up more than four times YoY, from an active MoMo base of 4.6 million subscribers.

MTN Nigeria said its 2021 priorities remain unchanged, with a clear focus on sustaining double-digit revenue growth, driving 4G network expansion and positioning its fintech business for accelerated growth.

Related posts:

*Top image is of MTN Nigeria CEO Karl Toriola (Source: MTN).

— Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa

Innovation hub

Story

Hot startup of the month: Kenya's Wowzi

Kenya's Wowzi is an online marketplace for social media users and influencers to connect with big brands and make money by amplifying their messages or products.

Story

World Mobile brings Wi-Fi hotspots to Zanzibar

Blockchain operator World Mobile is partnering with the Zanzibar eGovernment Agency to launch free Wi-Fi hotspots at public facing government institutions.

More Innovation hub

Guest Perspectives

Story

Omdia View: December 2021

By Omdia Analysts

This is the December 2021 edition of the Middle East and Africa News Digest series from Omida, which provides analysis of major trends and events in the region.

Story

Research Bites: Why ICT public access centers are struggling

By Cecilia Frans and Shaun Pather

This article – in produced in collaboration with the African Journal of Science, Technology, Innovation and Development – explores the reasons why African ICT public access centers are not finding success.

More Guest Perspectives

Partner perspectives

All Partner Perspectives

Latest video

More videos

Archived webinars

Meeting SME’s where they are - Building inclusive ecosystems for Africa’s small business owners

Micro and small businesses have been, and still are, the spine and lifeblood of the African economy, making up 90% of businesses on the continent.

Many of these businesses have still been operating in traditional ways and serving non-digital customers. With Covid-19 expediting the digital transformation process, businesses - big and small - have been forced to adapt to operate successfully in a more digital-first environment.

To ensure that the digitalization of Africa’s market doesn’t leave micro and small businesses behind, digital solutions must be inclusive and create business-ready environments. But how can we ensure that African SMEs become digitally enabled?

In this webinar we will share from our own experience on how to create such an environment, and the actions we took in vcita to get there, including:

  • Closing the digital literacy gap through tech inclusion 
  • Making a positive impact on local communities
  • Building the foundations for digital inclusion and small business growth in a technology-accelerated world
  • Building the foundations for digital inclusion and small business growth in a technology-accelerated world

Register Here >>

More Webinars

Flash poll

All polls

Sponsored video

More videos

AfricaCom perspectives

Story

Digital inclusion as a catalyst for economic empowerment: Mastercard's Imelda Ngunzu

Mastercard's Imelda Ngunzu talks to Connecting Africa about how digital payment solutions and mobile money are transforming the lives of small business owners, women and marginalized groups in East Africa.

Story

Accelerating women in STEM: In conversation with GirlCode's Tinyiko Simbine

GirlCode co-founder and CFO Tinyiko Simbine talks about why it's important to help girls and young women excel in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Story

How Poa Internet is unlocking meaningful connectivity in East Africa

Poa Internet's CEO Andy Halsall shares his views on what it takes to develop last-mile connectivity and get Africans online in a meaningful way.

More AfricaCom perspectives

Like us on Facebook

Newsletter Sign Up


Sign Up