South Africa-based telco MTN has released its quarterly figures, and while it is not a complete disaster, things could certainly have gone better.
Total subscribers were down across the group by 0.7%, group total revenues and group service revenue reduced by 13.4% and 14% respectively, which has been blamed on fluctuations in currency exchange rates. On a constant currency basis, revenues were up quite considerably, but such an argument always reminds us of the humorous phrase ‘if my grandma had wheels, she would be a motorcycle’. So what? It did change, and you made less money. Of course, it is only an indication of immediate problems which are uncontrollable, but it is a useful bit of PR spin nonetheless.
But it doesn’t all have to be about the bad news.
“The group continued to make steady progress in implementing our Bright strategy with a strong focus on operational execution across the group,” said MTN Group president and CEO, Rob Shuter.
“Our key growth drivers of data and digital services performed well with revenue growth of 31.4% and 19.6% respectively. In the quarter, we have accelerated our network investment programme, rolling out 1 641 3G and 2 102 4G sites (including co-located sites), supporting the demand for data services. In South Africa and Nigeria the network investments are showing encouraging improvements in network quality and NPS.”
The Bright strategy is MTN’s supposed road to redemption. With a focus on digital and data services, MTN is trying to find itself and reposition the troubled brand across the African continent. One area which is a primary focus is the mobile money side of the business, a shining light of success attempting to break through the gloom. Active MTN Mobile Money customers increased sequentially by 10.6% to 19.8 million.
It’s also a plan to boost employees morale in an effort to provide a better experience for customers. And they certainly do need a boost. In March, the team reported the first annual loss for 20 years, and that isn’t even taking into account the substantial fine imposed by the Nigerian government for failing to disconnect over 5 million unregistered SIM cards in the country.
MTN hasn’t completely left its troubles in the past, but there does seem to be some positives to take out of the quarter. Just look a bit closer.