South Africa's MTN Q3 subscribers rise on upbeat Nigeria market

Oct 29, 2018

MTN Group, Africa’s biggest mobile operator, reported a 1.1 percent rise in quarterly user base on Monday, helped partly by strong performances in Nigeria, its largest but increasingly problematic market.

The company said its user base increased by 2.5 million subscribers to 225.4 million users in the quarter ended September, and mobile money customers grew by 1.7 million to 25.8 million users.

Mobile money customers charge their phones with cash, and send it to friends or family via the short message service. These counterparties can then make similar transfers or cash in their credits with pre-approved agents, such as merchants or banks.

MTN is embroiled in a $10.1 billion dispute with the west African country of Nigeria, which has accused the company of illegally sending money abroad.

The telecom firm, which makes about a third of its annual core profit in Nigeria, said the allegations are without merit.

Nigeria’s central bank on Aug. 29 ordered the South African firm and its lenders to bring $8.1 billion back into Nigeria that it alleges the company sent abroad in breach of foreign exchange regulations. MTN also faces a $2 billion tax demand from the country’s attorney general.

“We continue to engage with relevant authorities on these matters. We remain resolute that MTN Nigeria has not committed any offences and will continue to defend this position vigorously,” MTN said while posting the quarterly results.

Reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips (Reuters)

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