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

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.

Story

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

Story

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.

Story

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

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

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