MTN has reported an increase in group service revenue for the quarter ended 31 March 2024.

The group delivered an increase in service revenue of 11,1%, driven by steady growth from MTN South Africa (MTN SA was up 3%); as well as strong performances in MTN Nigeria (up 31,8%), MTN Ghana (up 32,4%) and MTN Uganda (up 19,4%).

MTN Sudan was down 83,2%, as the country remains impacted by civil war conflict conditions.

MTN subscribers increased by 3-million to 287,6-million. Base growth was hampered by subscriber registration regulations in Ghana and Nigeria, as well as a decline in subscribers in Sudan amidst the ongoing conflict. Active data subscribers were up by 7,8% (to 149,2-million), supporting increased traffic and data revenue growth.

MoMo active users increased by 6,2% to 65,5-million (up 8,1% to 62,2-million, excluding OTC) as advanced services continued their strong growth trajectory with a 63,3% YoY growth relative to basic services (up 16,9% YoY). Rwanda, Uganda, and Nigeria were the main contributors to the 40,1% increase of active merchants to 2,2-million in Q1.

Transaction volume and value increased by 18,3% and 11,2% respectively, supporting the 25% YoY growth achieved in service revenue.

Overall Group EBITDA increased by 3,9%. The EBITDA margin declined by 2,5pp to 38,1% (Q1 2023: 40,6%), impacted by upward pressure on costs due to inflation and forex depreciation mainly in Nigeria, network resilience costs and electricity tariff escalations in MTN SA and the impact on
operations from the conflict in Sudan.

Through the execution of an expense efficiency programme, the MTN group realised efficiencies of R430-million in Q1.

Group president and CEO Ralph Mupita comments: “The macro environment in first quarter of 2024 remained challenging with ongoing high inflation as well as local currency devaluations in some of our key markets.

“Although still elevated, we are encouraged by the abating trend in the blended rate of inflation across our footprint, which reduced to 13,7% in Q1 2024; compared to 18,5% in Q1 2023 and 15,4% in Q4 2023.

“In Nigeria, we saw strong underlying commercial momentum in the business, despite the financial impacts of the sharp devaluation of the naira and continued elevated inflation during the period.

“Global geopolitical tensions remained elevated and a factor impacting our performance,” he adds. “This included the ongoing civil war in Sudan, which severely affected network availability and revenue generation in our business in that market.

“We were also impacted by cable cuts that resulted in downtime for significant subsea cables connecting the African continent, particularly in West Africa.”

The group invested capex (ex-leases) of R5,4-billion year-to-date (YTD) in its networks and platforms, with a capex intensity of 11,8% in the period. We drove data traffic and fintech transaction volumes growth of 36,2% (up 32,2% excluding joint ventures) and 18,3% respectively.