The Egyptian market surged through the 50% penetration barrier in Q1 09, finishing the quarter with a rate of 52.7%. In real terms, the total customer base grew to 43.57m. Quarterly net additions stood at 3.01m, making Q1 09 the third successive quarter in which the gain has exceeded 3m. On an annual basis, there was an increase of just under 12.50m - the highest figure ever recorded in the Egyptian market.
Proportionate annual growth stood at 40.2%, down from 52.9% for the prior twelve-month period. In fact, this was the second lowest growth rate of the past eight quarters, the lowest being the 39.0% recorded in Q4 08. This may seem to present a somewhat ambiguous prospect for future growth; however, the graph on the right suggests that the decline in proportionate growth may have bottomed out for the time being, and that actual growth should remain above 10m per year for some time to come.
Market leader Egyptian Company for Mobile Services (ECMS) - a joint venture between Orascom and France Telecom - finished the quarter with 21.18m customers. Annual growth stood at 21.0%, down from 51.5% a year earlier. On a quarterly basis, ECMS, which markets its services as Mobinil, added 1.06m customers. This meant that second-placed Vodafone took top spot for net additions for the second successive quarter. It added 1.33m to finish on 18.94m, with an annual growth rate of 34.6%, down from 45.8%. However, in terms of annual net additions ECMS still managed to lead the way with a gain of 5.02m, compared to 4.87m for Vodafone.
Both ECMS and Vodafone lost market share on an annual basis, ECMS losing 1.2pp to finish Q1 09 on 47.1% and Vodafone shedding 1.8pp to finish on 43.5%. The reason for this, of course, was third player Etisalat, which added 3.0pp to finish on 9.4%. In real terms, this translates to a customer base of 4.11m. Although it did well to maintain a triple-digit annual growth rate with a 107.3% rise in the twelve months to 31st March 2009, a market share of less than 10% after eight quarters of commercial service in what was a relatively under-developed market is somewhat disappointing.