.receives 35m NINs from subscribers
By Victor Akindele
Despite a ban on the sale of new registration between December 9, 2020, and April 18, 2021, Nigeria’s largest telecommunications operator, MTN, recorded an increase in revenue to N385.2 billion in the first quarter of this year. This represents 17 per cent growth year-on-year compared with N329 billion It recorded in the same period last year.
According to the telecom operator effects of customer churn and the regulatory restrictions on new SIM sales and activations led to a five million decline in its mobile subscribers to 71.5 million as of March-end. Its data subscribers also declined marginally by 71,000 to 32.5 million. These, however, did not affect the company’s revenue and profit as the telco’s profit before tax also grew by 33.9 per cent to N102.9 billion.
Commenting on the unaudited results for the quarter ended 31 March 2021, MTN Nigeria CEO, Karl Toriola, said: “We made good progress in the first quarter of 2021 despite the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We continue to prioritise the safeguards put in place to protect the health and well-being of our people, customers and stakeholders and to control the spread of the virus while ensuring network resilience and efficiency.”
He disclosed that more than 35 million subscribers of MTN had submitted their National Identification Number (NIN) as of 30 April 2021 as mandated by the government. This, he said, represents approximately 50 per cent of its subscriber base and 63 per cent of its service revenue.
“We are also actively supporting the Government’s NIN enrolment programme, with 182 points of enrolment active across the country. We are working with NIMC to increase the enrolment centres to provide an access point for as many Nigerian as possible,” Toriola said.
According to the MTN CEO, while the government policy on SIM led to a decline in the company’s overall subscribers it recorded an 86.7 per cent increase in data traffic and a 48.5 per cent 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 per cent and enhance throughput by 79 per cent.
“Digital revenue grew by 101.0 per cent and fintech revenue by 28.5 per cent as customers continued to adopt more digital products and services, a trend accelerated by the pandemic. As of the end of March 2021, we had 449,100 registered MoMo agents and 4.6 million fintech customers,” he said.
He added that the telco’s voice revenue grew by 8 per cent, supported by an 8.7 per cent increase in traffic and its customer value management initiatives. “The impact on voice revenue of the industry-wide suspension of new SIM registration in mid-December was partly offset by increased usage by active SIMs in our base and migration to a higher quality of experience,” Toriola explained.
He noted further that data revenue maintained the positive momentum from Q4 2020, rising by 42.6 per cent year-on-year. “This was led by increased usage and traffic, supported by 4G penetration and increased network capacity following the acquisition and activation of an additional 800MHz spectrum in March 2021. In line with our 4G acceleration, the 4G network now covers 61.8 per cent of the population, up from 60.1 per cent in December 2020. We added approximately 1.2 million new smartphones to the network, bringing smartphone penetration to 47.5 per cent of our base, up from 45.9 per cent in 2020,” he said.