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

MTN maintains strong market share across Africa

Article Image

Pan-African operator MTN has a market share of 63% in Ghana, 58% in Uganda and almost 50% in Nigeria, but has seen its market share drop in South Africa and Cameroon over the past five years.

This according to the group's five-year financial review document published alongside its 2020 Integrated report.

MTN says it has the largest market share in 13 markets in Africa and the Middle East, that's out of 21 countries it is present in. This is actually a drop from the 15 markets it dominated in back in 2016.

Overall subscribers have grown by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5% over the last five years, from 240.4 million in 2016 to 279.6 million at the end of 2020.

MTN Ghana grew its market share from 56% in 2016 to 63% in 2020 and added 5 million new customers.

In Nigeria the telco added 15 million new customers over the five years but its market share only ticked up marginally from 48% to 49%.

In South Africa the operator saw mobile penetration rates grow from 153% in 2016 to 190%, but its local market share dropped from 35% to 30% over the period.

Cameroon also saw a big dip from 57% market share in 2016 to 51% in 2020, despite keeping its subscriber numbers steady at 10 million.

MTN didn't give a full breakdown of all of its African operations but did give detail on seven African markets and two in the Middle East.

Statistics from MTN's five-year financial review document published alongside its 2020 Integrated report.
Statistics from MTN's five-year financial review document published alongside its 2020 Integrated report.

Middle East departure

The Middle East numbers give a bit of an indication of why the telecoms company is planning to exit the region.

In Syria, MTN's market share dropped to 36% in 2020 from 45% in 2016. That was as subscriber numbers stayed steady at 6 million – indicating that rival operators were gaining more customers in the country. The Syria business is the first one that the group plans to sell in the region, although it has run into some legal issues of late.

In Iran the operator added 1 million more customers over the five years but lost market share, from 46% in 2016 to 43% in 2020.

Related posts:

— Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa

Innovation hub


Safaricom launches M-Pesa 'super app'

Safaricom has launched its long-awaited M-Pesa 'super app' with new features like offline mode as well as mini-apps within the app.


Hot startup of the month: Nigeria's Bankly

Nigerian startup Bankly is digitizing cash for people who work in the informal sector and helping unbanked Nigerians save money, invest and gain access to credit and other financial services.

More Innovation hub

Latest video

More videos

Guest Perspectives


Omdia View: May 2021

By Omdia Analysts

This month, Omdia's analysts provide context and analysis about new licenses for operators in Ethiopia and Uganda, and Nigeria's 5G rollout plans.


Omdia View: April 2021

By Omdia Analysts

This month, Omdia's analysts provide context around Ethiopia's telecoms licensing process, Millicom's plans to exit Tanzania and Ghana, and Airtel Africa's successful capital raise.

More Guest Perspectives

Partner perspectives

All Partner Perspectives

AfricaCom perspectives


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.


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.


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

Upcoming events

North Africa Com
July 13-14, 2021
Virtual Event
Asia Tech x Singapore
July 13-16, 2021
Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
Africa Tech Festival
November 8-12, 2021
Cape Town, South Africa
More Upcoming events

Flash poll

All polls

Archived webinars

Technologies and business models to connect the next billion

Nearly half the planet remains unconnected at a time when COVID-19 has forced people’s reliance on the Internet and digital technologies higher than ever before. Bridging the digital divide to provide Mobile Internet access – the main driver of digital inclusion – is exceedingly important in the current context. Overcoming this connectivity crisis represents a growth opportunity for Mobile Network Operators (MNO) to expand their services outside of the crowded, highly competitive urban markets.

In this webinar we will focus on solutions that help MNOs close both the coverage gap and the usage gap.

Key topics include:

  • What are the barriers to overcome increased Mobile Internet adoption?
  • How to match deployments cost with expected revenue?
  • Operator success story

More Webinars

Sponsored video

More videos

Like us on Facebook

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign Up