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Nigeria’s SIM registration rules ‘adversely’ affected subscriber growth – MTN

African telecommunications giant MTN on Thursday said Nigeria's new regulations for registering SIM cards adversely affected the growth of its subscribers. The Nigerian government had directed all telcos in the country, including MTN, to register their users to the National Identity Number (NIN) database, an exercise it said will help to curb insecurity, fraud and cybercrimes.…
Nigeria citizens protesting at SIM-NIN registration centre

Nigeria citizens protesting at SIM-NIN registration centre

African telecommunications giant MTN on Thursday said Nigeria’s new regulations for registering SIM cards adversely affected the growth of its subscribers.

The Nigerian government had directed all telcos in the country, including MTN, to register their users to the National Identity Number (NIN) database, an exercise it said will help to curb insecurity, fraud and cybercrimes.

Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) in early 2020 directed telcos to deregister customers who had not registered for the NIN. Telcos, who fail to comply risked withdrawal of their operational license, according to the NCC.

So far, the NCC said it has linked 143 million out of 207 million active phone numbers operated by Nigerians to their NIN.

For persons wanting to register new SIMS, they have to first get the NIN.

The exercise, however, affected MTN’s target to grow its subscriber base for Q3 2021.

“The Group delivered a solid operational and financial performance despite slower subscriber additions,” MTN Group said in a statement on Thursday.

“In the quarter we added 0.2 million subscribers to reach 271.9 million, adversely impacted by the decline in subscribers in MTN Nigeria, which resulted from the revised registration regulations in Nigeria.”

In contrast to the low subscription figure in Nigeria where it has its major market base, MTN said it had over 1 million subscribers in other countries.

“Excluding Nigeria, total subscribers were up by 1.6 million,” MTN Group said.

The telecommunication giant is however optimistic that “as more of MTN’s enrolment centres in Nigeria are certified for SIM registration in line with the current regulations, we expect positive net additions to resume during Q4 2021.”

Despite the decline in subscribers, MTN said it “sustained voice revenue growth of 6.9%. Data revenue grew by 34.5%.”

MTN said its revenue growth “was supported by robust growth in data usage, up 52.6%, and a 4.1 million addition to active data users in the quarter to reach 119.0 million, as demand for work-from-home services, digital entertainment as well as online education remained robust.”

The company, however, announced that it plans to sell 575 million shares worth $241.7 million from its Nigerian business.

MTN noted that the “offer is anticipated to open in November 2021 with a bookbuild to institutional investors, after which a fixed price is expected to be announced for retail investors also in November 2021.”

“The offer is expected to close in December 2021. This is the first step in our previously communicated statement of intent to sell down approximately 14% of MTN Group’s current shareholding in MTN Nigeria.”