Second national operator (SNO), Globacom Limited, has overtaken MTN South Africa in a new ranking of the Top 10 mobile network operators straddling the African and Middle Eastern telecoms market.
Glo Mobile, the mobile business unit of the SNO and a late entrant into the Nigerian telecoms market that launched service two years after local rivals, MTN Nigeria, owned by South Africa’s MTN Group; Celtel Nigeria, owned by Kuwaiti’s Zain Group (former MTC Group) and Mtel, the mobile subsidiary of the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited, owned by Transnational Corporation (Transcorp). Glo Mobile is also setting its eyes on the continent’s top telecoms market spot.
According to market survey featuring the latest ranking of Top 10 Operators in the Mid-East and Africa market released by Mobile World, the Nigerian company is a player to watch having achieved the distinction of entering the league of top players in Africa and the Middle East within its relatively short period of market entry.
Significantly, Globacom clinched the fifth place with subscriber numbers that peaked at 13.95 million and market share of 37.3 per cent at the end of the second quarter of 2007 to overtake the MTN South Africa, launched 13 years ago (June 1994) and which recorded the sixth position with 13.4 million subscribers within the period under review.
According to the report authors, “the fourth and fifth placed operators in the region are both from Nigeria, a country with nearly twice the population of Iran. Both have around 14 million customers today, which put them both within striking distance of the top spot. Admittedly, competition is more fierce in the African country, but MTN Nigeria ( 14.0m customers, 37.6 per cent market share) and Globacom (13.95m and 37.3 per cent) are way out ahead of their two competitors.”
It adds further that, “MTN South Africa had a quiet time in Q2 2007, with just 0.21 million net additions, to take its total to 13.4 million. This was the second smallest gain of any company on this list and as a result, it has dropped one place this quarter to sixth place.”
Additionally, Globacom’s coming is also a warning signal to the local operation of the MTN Group, MTN Nigeria, which took the fourth position with a subscriber base of 14 million and market share 37.6 per cent as the authors of the report have noted that if the SNO’s growth is sustained, MTN, “may well lose the top spot in Nigeria to its newer rival.”
This comes just as Chief Operating Officer, Globacom, Mohammed Jameel, announced that the company’s subscriber base has peaked at 15 million, closing the mobile market gap.
Jameel who disclosed this at a media briefing also disclosed that the company has introduced 0705 number series to drive its current bid for market leadership complemented by the network expansion to support 30 million users by the end of the year.
He adds that Globacom’s current expansion plans will see the addition of over 150 base stations each week across the country to increase the base station to 750 by the end of the year citing that, “the equipment for achieving this phenomenal growth is already in the country.”
Beyond Nigeria, the Mobile World market ranking reports that the mobile markets in Middle East and Africa seemed to slow down in the second quarter of 2007.
“Indeed, we have to go back four years, to the second quarter of 2003, to find its equal. In both periods, the market grew by 8.0%, but while this implied fewer than 5 million new connections in 2003, in 2007, it meant 24 million. Looking across the markets what we see is that most of the fastest growing businesses were in Africa, rather than the Middle East, where markets are characterised by much higher penetration rates.
The ten largest companies in the region account for 43.2% of the region’s customers, marginally down quarter on quarter. The list contains the same names as it did in the last quarter, but there have been a couple of changes in positioning.”
South Africa ‘s Vodacom led the ranking with a total of 21.95 million, equivalent to a regional market share of just over 6.6 per cent.
TCI, the Telecommunica-tions Company of Iran, one of the few countries in the Middle East region that can be considered under-developed – penetration, at 29%, is below that in neighbouring Iraq where mobile telephony was only introduced four years ago.
TCI made 1.86 million new connections in the quarter (an 11.7% growth rate) to reach a total of 17.8 million customers. Logic suggests that as Iran’s population is materially higher than South Africa’s (69m against 44m) TCI must inevitably overtake Vodacom. But if that happens, TCI may not enjoy regional leadership for anywhere near as long as Vodacom has
STC, the largest operator in Saudi Arabia, is sandwiched between TCI and the Nigerian companies. It closed the quarter with 15.5 million connections, after a gain of just 0.2 million. We can anticipate another growth spurt in the current quarter, due partly to the impact on demand of Ramadan and partly because STC faces the prospect of a third competitor in the shape of Kuwait’s MTC.
MTN South Africa had a quiet time in Q2 2007, with just 0.21 million net additions, to take its total to 13.4 million. This was the second smallest gain of any company on this list and as a result, it has dropped one place this quarter to sixth place.
The four remaining companies in the ranking are all in North Africa . Orascom’s Algerian subsidiary connected a further 0.7 million new customers to end the quarter just shy of the 12 million mark. However, it seems likely to lose this place next quarter to Mobinil, the France Telecom/Orascom venture in Egypt, which closed with 11.90 million customers, having added 1.2 million new connections between March and June. Mobinil and its Vodafone Egypt rival are both piling on customers in an attempt to minimise the impact of the third entrant in the market, a consortium headed by Kuwait’s Etisalat. Vodafone Egypt is in fact the tenth largest business in the region, having added even more customers than Mobinil, to take its total to just under 11 million. Maroc Telecom separates the two, taking ninth place with 11.7 million.
According to Mobile World, “all ten of these operators now have over ten million customers. However, it would be wrong to think that this is where the story ends. The spread of mobile ownership across the region is such that as at the end of June, there were over 60 separate networks with one million or more customers. Between these two statistics, come others. The top 15 operators all have more than five million – numbers eleven to 15 being respectively Algeria Telecom Mobile, V-Mobile in Nigeria, Safaricom Kenya, Mobily in Saudi Arabia and Etisalat. The top 30 all have more than 2.5 million customers in fact and as the accompanying piece on the region’s major operators shows, a large majority of these businesses are owned by one of just eight or nine multinational groupings.”