Data is MTN Nigeria’s new magic wand


N516.21 billion worth of revenue was earned from data in 2021

MTN Nigeria’s performance in 2021 is nothing short of commendable, going by information contained in its recently released 2021 full-year audited financial statement. Despite ‘the disturbing’ SIM card policy of the Federal Government, it recovered to still make marked improvements.

At the start of 2021, the Federal Government directed telecommunication companies to suspend the sale and reactivation of SIM cards for a period. This decision, by June 2021, had cost MTN Nigeria 1.98 million data users. People couldn’t own SIM cards. Those who lost theirs were frustrated in their attempt at retrieval. This haunted MTN.

Not just MTN as we came to notice. NCC report showed that the industry’s active data subscribers base dropped 3.3% in the second quarter of 2021, representing a loss of over 4.76 million users.

MTN Nigeria would later close the same year (2021), 1.7 million active data users better off. A noteworthy accomplishment, given the apparent difficulties. Especially after how the first half of the year went. The feat is even more incredible after the Nigerian Communications Commission shared that the country’s internet subscribers count decreased by 14.5 million (November 2020 – October 2021).

Subsequently, the establishment is that active data users did reduce. But somehow, MTN found a way to ensure the opposite for themselves.

As for the telecommunications industry, active data usage is now a big deal. Here’s why:

By January 2021, Nigeria had recorded 104 million internet users. This corresponds to about half of the population. In terms of revenue, each telco company had seen revenue from data increase exponentially every year.

In 2018, MTN made N164.79 billion from data and N674.78 billion from voice. Its data revenue rose from N218.69 billion in 2019 to N332.37 billion in 2020. Voice revenue increased from N723.92 billion in 2019 to N766.39 billion in 2020.

Last year, N516.21 billion worth of revenue was earned from data. Voice made N819.74 billion.

Frankly, the importance of these for the future as it relates to investors, analysts and senior management is that; whichever network provider lays down a proper marker now on data investment and its consequent growth, is vastly predicted to own the market in the next decade or so.

MTN Nigeria is trying to fasten this marker to the ground permanently. Their technological and market focus has firmly been directed towards this area and so far, bears fruits.

From what used to be a meagre percentage contribution to total income, Data revenue contributed as much as 55% in 2021.  Furthermore, MTN Nigeria made a major statement with how effectively they accelerated the roll-out of the 4G network. Even in the comments of the Chief Executive Officer, Karl Toriola, he claims that the 4G network now covers more than 70% of the population.

It doesn’t end there, MTN Nigeria’s next level plan as shared by Toriola is to roll out 5G. With the successful acquisition of the spectrum license in December 2021 to accomplish this, the yellow network’s customers and stakeholders can bask in euphory over their solid foundations for the future. The 5G promises fantastic future network performances and ultimately, growth. This will maintain MTN Nigeria as a forefront benefactor and industry leader in this new market space. Here, data will evidently and eventually trump voice as the major revenue-generating source.

These fine works MTN has put in, especially since its 20th anniversary already yields enormous results. Profit after tax grew by 45.5% to N298.7 billion in 2021. Total revenue may hit N2 trillion this 2022, all things being equal. For 2021, total revenue was N1.65 trillion, growing from N1.35 trillion in the preceding year.

Expenditure on advertising and sales promotion increased by 44%, indicative of active marketing. Fat margins in fintech subscribers and Operating profit amongst other notable variables.

MTN Nigeria is flying here, and it is as though rivals are watching it happen. The key lesson from 2021’s result is; dynamism is crucial. Businesses must anticipate market changes and be ready to respond. With the long term in mind, we all want to see some movements from competitors too on data. For now, though, MTN Nigeria is having all the fun.

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