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MTN disconnects more 4.5 million subscribers

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MTN Nigeria has disconnected another 4.5 million subscribers even as its Group subscriber base drop by 1.4 percent in the first quarter of the year. According to the Group first report, the telecoms giant MTN Nigeria’s subscriber base dropped almost 7 percent quarterly to 57 million subscribers for the period ending 31 March.

The company said that the drop was caused by the massive disconnection in February, following the directive from the Nigerian Communications Commission over the improper registration of SIM card by the telecommunications company.

“We believe we have now dealt with all the subscribers who were considered to be non-compliant,” MTN said. Commenting on the report, the MTN Group Executive Chairman, Phuthuma Nhleko said that the first quarter of 2016 saw the group impacted by “the ‘aftershocks’ 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”.

He added: “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.” Nhleko explained that the incident had “significant unfavourable impact” on the total subscriber growth and revenue in the first quarter stressing that MTN believes its resolve to address compliance matters decisively, has now put the Group on a solid footing with regard to the subscriber registration process and regulatory matters in general.

He stated:”The group has undertaken a number of ‘back to the basics’ structural and operational initiatives that will hopefully reset and position the group for future growth in a rapidly evolving sector.” The telecommunications company said that the Nigerian operation is currently reconnecting subscribers through proactive engagement and ‘win back’ offers, saying, “Following the re-instatement of regulatory services in March, MTN Nigeria continued to engage the regulatory authorities and we hope to receive approval from the regulator for approval of promotional products and services during the current month.” The report further showed that MTN South Africa’s subscribers also decreased by 1.7 percent quarterly to 30.1 million saying that this was impacted by “seasonal trends and an alignment of the subscriber base, particularly the recently acquired subscriber base from Autopage.

The Group report said that in South Africa, MTN’s prepaid subscriber base declined by 1.8 percent quarterly to 24.9 million noting that the postpaid base declined by 0.8 percent to 5.2 million.

The Group said that its average revenue per user was also affected by “the exceptionally unfortunate 48-hour network outage experienced in February” noting that the negative impact resulted to approximately three percent on revenue for the month while billable minutes for the quarter declined by 11.3 percent yearly.

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