Africa’s biggest mobile network in Nigeria, MTN claimed it recorded a loss of about 4.5 million subscribers in the first quarter of 2016.
The telco, in a quarterly update for the period ended March 31, said the loss in Nigeria was due to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) mandated disconnections in February.
The decline reduced MTN’s base in Nigeria from over 61 million to 57 million, in the midst of growing controversy on the $5.2 billion NCC fine.
“During the first quarter of 2016, the group was impacted by the ‘after shocks’ of the events that took place towards the end of 2015, mainly the subscriber registration process in many of the countries in which we operate, with Nigeria being the largest,” Phuthuma Nhleko, MTN Group executive chairman, said.
“In order to mitigate any future regulatory challenges, the group took an exceptionally conservative stance by disconnecting all subscribers who could possibly be deemed to be non-compliant.
“This has had a significant unfavourable impact on total subscriber growth and revenue in Q1 16. Nonetheless, we believe this resolve to address compliance matters decisively, has put the Group on a solid footing as regards the subscriber registration process and regulatory matters in general.”
MTN also recorded a corresponding revenue decline in Nigeria, while it says it is improving data network in key Nigerian cities.
“Constant currency data revenue declined by 9.6% and contributed 19.0% to total revenue mainly due to a change in regulatory requirements obliging operators to seek permission from customers to charge out-of-bundle rates upon the depletion of a data bundle,” MTN said.
“During the quarter the operation continued to improve its data network in key cities and rolled out 73 2G and 149 3G sites. These network coverage and quality improvements were reflected in the net promoter score with an increase of 3% for the quarter.
“Local currency ARPU increased by 11.9% QoQ. The operation’s competitiveness was impacted by regulatory restrictions in the quarter.”