MTN has cut off 4.5 million subscribers in Nigeria as the group treads with caution over any potential regulatory hurdles.
In a quarterly update, MTN reported that group subscribers had decreased by 1.4% since Q4 2015, which was largely due to the million of subscribers cut off in Nigeria, representing a 6.9% decline in the country.
MTN South Africa also saw subscriber numbers drop by 1.7% – from 30,588,000 to 30,077,000 – though this was impacted by seasonality and the alignment of the subscriber base it acquired from Altech Autopage.
MTN Group executive chairman, Phuthuma Nhleko said that the group was hit hard by the events that took place at the end of 2015 – referencing the multi-billion dollar fine imposed on the group by Nigerian authorities.
Th Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) hit MTN with a $3.9 billion fine for failing to disconnect 5.2 million unregistered SIMs on its network, which the government said posed a massive security risk for the country.
“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,” Nhleko said.
“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 currently has 30.08 million subscribers in South Africa, while Nigeria remains the group’s largest market with 57 million subscribers.