Telecommunications giants, MTN has announced that since the launch of the Fifth-Generation (5G) network in Nigeria last September, it has rolled out 588 sites across leading cities in the country.
According to the Chief Executive Officer, MTN Nigeria, Karl Toriola, in the firm’s financial year report, ended December 31, 2022, released recently, informed that efforts are in top gear to expand 5G roll out in the country.
Toriola said MTN continued to manage and invest in the resilience of its business and network in Nigeria “expanding coverage and capacity with a focus on expense efficiencies and disciplined capital allocation.”
This took place as capital expenditure (capex) increased by 23.5 per cent over the year, with MTN spending N504.3 billion ($1.1 billion).
“We became the first mobile network operator to launch a 5G network in Nigeria, providing coverage in key cities in the six geopolitical regions. Since its commercial launch in September 2022, we have rolled out 588 sites and brought the 5G network to 5G-enabled smartphones, starting with iPhone users.
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“We accelerated the coverage and capacity of our 4G network in response to the rising data traffic, bringing 4G population coverage to 79.1 per cent (up by 8.7 per cent). 4G traffic now constitutes 79.5 per cent (up by 9.7 per cent) of the total traffic on our network,” he added.
The report noted that MTN managed to add 7.2 million Nigerian subscribers in 2022, an increase of 10.5 per cent to 75.6 million, despite the telco having to drop millions of users, who had not properly adhered to the country’s SIM card registration process.
Recall that in April 2022, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) directed all operators to restrict outgoing calls for subscribers whose SIMs were not linked to a National Identification Number (NIN). This forced MTN to cut off 19 million users at that time.
“As a result, in Q3, we recorded higher churn from affected subscribers who stopped activity after the initial restriction, some of whom opted to obtain new SIMs. Therefore, we continued to ramp up gross connections and roll out NIN recovery offers to mitigate the impact of churn.
“General traffic trends have also evolved in line with expectations since the implementation of the directive. Voice traffic maintained a steady recovery, while data traffic demonstrated strong growth momentum, reflecting the overall trend in service revenue growth,” it added.
The report showed that MTN Nigeria recorded a strong set of results for the financial year ended December 31, 2022, with profit up over 20 per cent and users growing 10 per cent despite SIM registration challenges, high inflation rates and macroeconomic pressure.
The Nigerian subsidiary of pan-African telecoms firm reported a 22.3 per cent increase year-on-year (YoY) in profit before tax, to N534 billion.
“2022 was challenging due to global macroeconomic and geopolitical volatility, resulting in higher inflation, supply chain uncertainties, foreign exchange volatility and availability. In Nigeria, Inflation reached a 17-year high of 21.5 per cent in November before moderating slightly to 21.3 per cent in December, bringing the average for the year to 18.8 per cent and putting pressure on consumer spending,” said Toriola in the result statement.
According to the report, the year saw active data users increase by 15.3 per cent to 39.5 million and active fintech subscribers’ increase by 57.5 per cent to 14.9 million.
The fintech and Mobile Money (MoMo) business has also seen strong growth after the launch of MTN’s MoMo Payment Service Bank (PSB) in May 2022.
“Our active fintech users rose by 5.5 million to 14.9 million, of which approximately two million are active MoMo wallets,” Toriola said.