Africa and Middle East mobile operator MTN has cut its guidance for net subscriber additions this year, hurt by required customer registration processes in Nigeria and Cameroon. It now expects to add a net 14.8 million new customers this year, compared to its guidance in June of 16.75 million.
In Nigeria, the forecast was cut to 4.5 million new customers this year from an estimated 5.0 million previously, after MTN already disconnected around 5.1 million Sims in August for failed registration. Since then, around 3.4 million of these customers were reconnected. The forecast in Cameroon also was slashed, to 750,000 new customers from 1.15 million. Only Iran and Ghana saw a small increase in their subscriber growth outlook for the year.
Overall, MTN managed to grow its customer base 0.9 percent quarter-on-quarter in Q3, to a total 233.05 million at the end of September. Mobile Money subscribers reached 36.5 million, up 12.7 percent from three months earlier. Data traffic rose 120 percent year-on-year, and data revenue at constant currency rates was up 27.0 percent, accounting for 23.2 percent of total revenue.
In its home market South Africa, MTN added 573,000 new customers, all in prepaid. Postpaid customers fell by 2.6 percent due to supply-chain problems with handsets and the disconnection of around 90,000 low-value router customers at Autopage. Billable minutes were still up 41.1 percent compared to a year ago, and data revenue rose 40 percent. ARPU in South Africa rose 8.8 percent, and MTN added 1,746 largely colocated 3G and 811 LTE sites during the quarter.
In Nigeria, the operator’s largest market, data revenue grew a slower 16.8 percent as tough competition led to price pressure. The effective data tariff was down almost 60 percent on an annual basis, MTN said. To help meet demand, it added 630 3G and 66 LTE sites during the quarter.