MTN shapes up from rapid switch to work and study from home

By Dineo Faku Time of article published Jun 26, 2020

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JOHANNESBURG - Telecommunications company MTN yesterday reached the milestone of 100million active data users across Africa and the Middle East as coronavirus pandemic lockdowns accelerated data usage.

Chief executive Rob Shuter said the group believed people deserved the benefits of modern connected life.

“We are delighted to have connected 100million of our customers to the power of the internet, as we have increased data coverage and reduced the cost to communicate across our markets,” Shuter said.

The milestone saw MTN growing active data users by 5million from the end of 2019 to take its total base to more than 257million customers in 21 markets.

Shuter said that growth through scaling data and digital services was central to the group’s strategy. In 2019, MTN had 251million subscribers, 95million active data users and 35million MoMo (mobile money) users.

“Over time, our ambition is to grow our customer base to 300million and for at least two-thirds to be accessing the power of the internet on an MTN network - so the 100million achieved today marks the halfway mark in the MTN journey,” said Shuter.

He said the group believed the consumer mobile data market would grow enormously over the next few years.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has served to accelerate the adoption of mobile data, digital services and financial services,” Shuter said. “As a result, we have recorded increases of up to 50percent in data volumes in some markets, as work and studying from home becomes a reality for many.”

Shuter said the group was focused on reducing data prices.

In April, MTN reduced the price of its monthly bundles of 1GB and below by between 25 and 50percent, in line with recommendations of the Competition Commission’s Data Market Inquiry, which found that it was charging excessive prices.

Yesterday, the Competition Tribunal approved MTN’s price cuts, including the reduction of the price of 30-day prepaid bundles across all channels.

The head of equities at Mergence Investment Managers, Peter Takaendesa, said the milestone was a major feat for MTN.

“Their mobile money business is also continuing to grow strongly and is likely to approach 40million users in the near future.

"The increased mobile data adoption due to Covid-19 has accelerated the achievement of this milestone, but the significant investments the group has made into its data networks and data-enabled devices have been the real enabler,” said Takaendesa.

MTN is facing several short-term headwinds affecting the economies of its key African countries and the implications thereof on its financial position.


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