MTN adds 12 million customers despite first-half challenges

Pan-African operator MTN Group saw profits and revenues for the first half of the year buoyed by continuing subscriber growth despite pricing pressure across most of its markets.

Profits after tax rose by 19%, to ZAR14.55 billion ($1.46 billion), compared with the same period of 2012, while revenues were up by 9.8%, to ZAR65.25 billion.

Meanwhile, the company’s overall subscriber base grew by 6.5%, compared with end-June 2012, to 201.5 million customers.

Pan-African operator MTN Group saw profits and revenues for the first half of the year buoyed by continuing subscriber growth despite pricing pressure across most of its markets.

Profits after tax rose by 19%, to ZAR14.55 billion ($1.46 billion), compared with the same period of 2012, while revenues were up by 9.8%, to ZAR65.25 billion.

Meanwhile, the company’s overall subscriber base grew by 6.5%, compared with end-June 2012, to 201.5 million customers.

In a statement, MTN (Johannesburg, South Africa) said a mixture of economic, competitive and regulatory pressure had led to a 29.5% year-on-year fall in voice prices in US dollar terms.

The operator was able to boost customer numbers despite having to disconnect 3.2 million in Nigeria due to a mandatory subscriber registration program that closed on 30 June 2013.

In Nigeria, MTN was also hit by a 40% reduction to mobile termination rates that came into effect on 1 April.

MTN said it was on track to report full-year earnings and revenue improvements and expected to add a total of 21.1 million customers over in 2013.

MTN also flagged a sharp increase in capital expenditure, up 19.7%, to ZAR12.79 billion, compared with the same period of 2012.

The operator has been investing heavily in the expansion of 2G and 3G networks, seeking to bolster network quality and provide mobile data services to its customers.

Overall data revenues were up by 36.9%, year on year, to ZAR9.05 billion.

Besides South Africa and Nigeria, MTN operates networks in Iran, Ghana, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Uganda, Syria and Sudan.

It noted that it was working with all relevant authorities on managing US and EU sanctions against Iran and Syria, citing an “extremely challenging environment” in the latter, where continuing unrest continues to impact results and led to 521,000 net disconnections over the first six months of 2013.