The ten fastest growing operators in the MEA region added over 12m new customers in aggregate over the last three months, implying an average gain of over 1.25m. In fact, all but three of the ten managed seven figure gains.
Mobinil in Egypt produced by far the best result in the region, with 2.58m net adds - more than it connected in the first two quarters of the year and nearly one million more than second placed MTN Nigeria managed. The Egyptian market has been booming since the launch of the country’s third network, but as is so often the way, the incumbents have been the main beneficiaries. Vodafone Egypt was the fourth fastest growing company in the quarter, with 1.39m new customers, while Etisalat Egypt, the new entrant, only managed a gain of 310k, for 28th place overall.
An increased competitive threat also lay behind the strong performance by third placed Irancell and fifth placed TCI Iran. These two added 1.55m and 1.15m connections respectively, but this week, a third national mobile licence has been awarded to a consortium led coincidentally (or perhaps not) by Etisalat. This will have exclusive rights to offer 3G services, at least for the moment. Experience shows that agreements of this kind are rarely honoured if there is a licence fee to be had.
Kenyan companies take sixth and tenth. Safaricom, the Vodafone associate, added 1.12m new connections in the quarter to strengthen its lead over Zain Kenya. Zain remains the main threat in Kenya, but its 0.65m net adds in Q3 do not fully offset the loss of 0.98m seen in Q4 07 and Q1 08 and the company’s base is still down, year on year.
AsiaCell of Iraq and ScanCom Ghana (MTN) complete the top ten, with 0.76m and 0.72m respectively. A further 22 separate businesses added more than 0.25m new customers during the quarter, these representing some 19 different markets.