South Africa's MTN Group has announced that it had a shade under 108.5 million subscribers at the end of September. This is a 5% increase for the quarter from 103.2 million subscribers recorded at the end of June 2009 and a 19.6% increase for the year to date.
The South and East Africa (SEA) region increased its subscriber base by a very modest 0.5% for the quarter. This was primarily due to the disappointing negative movement of the South Africa subscriber base which contributes 64% to the region. South Africa's subscriber base declined from 17.23 million at the end of June 2009 to 16.42 million at the end of September. The main reason for the movement is the significantly lower number of gross connections following the implementation of RICA in August, which requires PrePay SIM cards to be registered with the operators. Given the current market uncertainty following the RICA implementation there are challenges with South Africa achieving its revised target of zero net additions for the full year.
Uganda increased its subscriber base by 11% in the quarter following the continued success of MTN Zone which now constitutes 95% of the total prepaid base.
The West and Central Africa (WECA) region increased its subscriber base by 5% for the quarter driven mainly by Nigeria which accounts for 58% of the region's subscribers. Nigeria recorded a 5% increase in its subscriber base to 28.76 million mainly due to continued network rollout, innovative product offerings and the effectiveness of the distribution channels implemented earlier in 2009. Ghana maintained its market share and increased its subscriber base by 2,6% despite aggressive competitor activity. Both Cameroon and Cote d'Ivoire increased their subscriber bases by 4% and 5% to 4.19 million and 4.21 million, respectively.
The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region recorded a 9% increase in subscribers for the quarter. This was largely due to continued growth from the Iran operation, which contributes 62% to the region's subscribers and increased its base by 8% to 20.7 million. Iran's growth was attributable mainly to expanded network coverage and continued promotional activity. Syria increased its subscriber base by 13% to 4 million, well above expectations. Afghanistan, although a relatively smaller operation, has been steadily contributing positively to the region's growth and has gained No. 1 position in the market from No 3 at the beginning of 2009.
MTN has revised its subscriber net addition guidance for the year for South Africa to zero and for Syria to 550,000 while other individually disclosed country guidance remains the same. MTN expects to achieve the total group subscriber net addition guidance for 2009 of 22.6 million.