Stories by ADEDEJI FAKOREDE
THE challenges posed by the poor handling of Subscribers Identification Modules (SIM) cards registration and subsequent cut off of some customers from the various networks may have contributed significantly to the downward growth profile of the quartet of MTN Nigeria, Globacom, Airtel and Etisalat in Q3.
Investigations has shown that between Q2 and Q3, the GSM operators’ growth profile fell from an average of 3.42 per cent in Q1 to Q2 to 1.32 per cent by the end of Q3.
In specific, according to statistics from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), MTN, which earned 2.72 per cent growth at the end of Q2, fell to minus 0.51 per cent by Q3 ending. Globacom, whose growth profile was put at 5.68 per cent by Q2 fell to 0.16 per cent by the end of Q3.
However, Airtel and Etisalat, according to the statistics, improved on their ratings. Airtel, which grew by 3.08 per cent by Q2, increased to 5.31 per cent by Q3, while Etisalat had a slight growth from 2.77 per cent in Q2 to 2.80 per cent by Q3 ending.
The operators had entered 2015 with an average of 3.56 per cent growth profile with Etisalat earning 5.36 per cent; Globacom 4.81 per cent; Airtel 4.08 per cent and MTN with 2.10 per cent.
Nonetheless, subscriberwise, the NCC statistic puts MTN Nigeia far above others with 62.439 million; Globacom 31.306 million; Airtel 31.134 million and Etisalat has 23.492 million.
Recalled that in September, MTN cuts its subscriber growth target on the sliding Nigeria customer numbers
The firm claimed that more than five million Nigerian customers were disconnected following a review into how they were able to register for phone contracts.
The company will add 14.8 million net subscribers this year, compared with a previous forecast of 16.75 million, Johannesburg-based MTN said in a statement.
The carrier’s customer base grew 0.9 per cent to 233 million in the three months through September compared with the previous quarter.
MTN, which operates in more than 20 countries across the Middle East and Africa, had 5.1 million subscribers cut off in Nigeria, its biggest market, at the end of August following checks on personal documents.
According to an MTN official, Nik Kershaw, in a report on Bloomberg, the company was also facing “ongoing regulatory restrictions” related to its market-leading position in Africa’s most populous country. About 3.4 million of the customers have been reconnected, the company said.
While the loss of Nigerian customers is a short-term setback, “it does point to a tough regulatory environment,” Steve Minnaar, a money-manager at Cape Town-based Abax Investment, stated. “They have been struggling with the regulator for many years in the Nigerian environment.”
Meanwhile, Internet subscriptions saw additional 1.84 million between August and September. The NCC said the number increased from 95.37 million to 97.21 million.
MTN has 41.84 million subscribers browsing the internet on its network.
NCC explained that MTN recorded an increase of 423,448 Internet subscribers in September, after recording 41.41 million in August.
According to the data, Globacom has 21.89 million subscribers surfing the net on its network in September. About 20.77 million surfed the Internet on the network in August.
Airtel had 17.73 million internet users in September as against 17.49 million customers recorded in August. The data showed that internet users on the Airtel network increased by 235,941 in September.
NCC also said that Etisalat had 15.59 million customers who browsed the internet in September, against the 15.54 million users in August. The data showed that those browsing the net on Etisalat’s network rose by 57,061 in the month of September.