Social media supporting local media, MTN’s impressive Q1 2021

by | May 3, 2021

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Good day,
Oluwanifemi and Emmanuel here.

Today we are discussing:

  • Social media support for local news media
  • MTN defying the odds once again in Q1 2021
  • Notable events from last week, such as CBN’s hammer

Social media support for local news media

Twitter is up to something. The social media company is starting a campaign on Monday, May 3, 2021, to encourage local journalists and boost local news. That means, from today, Twitter will launch the campaign with a 28-full-page colour ad in several local newspapers across the Gannett/USA Today and McClatchy network, both online and in print.

Before this, #FollowLocalJournalists was trending on Twitter, and journalists were being added to relevant lists for a fast reach. Subsequently, Twitter Spaces sessions would be created to foster conversations between journalists.


So, if this works as planned, more people will follow local journalists and support their work. While this is focused on the US, it is not restricted to the region. After all, it’s Twitter, and it can also be trended globally. That means, irrespective of location, “local journalists” can shamelessly plug into this hashtag.

Not only Twitter: Facebook has budgeted $5 million to pay reporters to join its new media company focused on local news reporting. It opened applications for independent journalists to apply on Thursday, April 29, 2021.

Substack, launched Substack Local — a $1 million initiative — in mid-April for 30 local reporters to receive one-year advances of up to $100,000.

This is quite ironic since social media is clearly competing with media platforms. With these moves from two social media giants and a newsletter company, can the situation be better?

For context: The unending tussle between news media and social media

MTN’s Q1 earnings

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Photo Credit: USAID Digital Development Flickr via Compfight cc

MTN, Nigeria’s largest telecom company by subscriber base, has announced its earnings (PDF) for Q1 2021. Despite losing millions of subscribers, the company witnessed improved growth in revenue and profits.

Key data points:

  • Mobile subscribers declined by 5 million to 71.5 million.
  • Active data users declined by 71,000 to 32.5 million.
  • Voice revenue grew by 8% to ₦244.6 million.
  • Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation, and Amortization (EBITDA) grew by 19.1% to ₦204.5 billion.
  • Profit before tax grew by 33.9% to ₦102.9 billion.
  • Profit after tax grew by 42.5% to ₦73 million.

Other stuff we noticed


  • 1.2 million MTN users got smartphones between January and March 2021, bringing smartphone penetration to 47.5% for MTN users.
  • The 4G network now covers 61.8% of the population.
  • MTN added 54,000 mobile money agents.
  • Half of MTN’s subscribers are yet to link their NIN

A telling effect: MTN’s decline in voice and data subscribers can be linked to the Nigerian government’s suspension of new SIM registrations in December 2020.

Every Nigerian telecom company has experienced this decline. The revenue and profit growth despite this decline then becomes more impressive.

Wondering what else caught our attention or how SIM registration suspension actually leads to a decline in subscribers? Watch out for our analysis later today on Techpoint Africa.

Last week on Techpoint Africa

We went back 20 years into Nigeria’s telecommunications journey, pointing out some notable milestones along the way.

Read: Inside 2 decades of mobile telecommunications in Nigeria

What else happened last week?

Last week, really weird stuff happened at First Bank, and TechCabal’s Alexander Onukwue wrote a brilliant piece on the issue.

Read: In sacking First Bank’s board, a bruised Emefiele enforces CBN tradition

AZA Finance, BitPesa parent firm, raises $50m, acquires remittance firm Exchange4free to launch in SA. Read.

Uganda’s Ensibuuko raises $1m to scale rapidly in Uganda and expand in Africa. Read.

What else we’re reading

  • Facebook and Instagram notices in iOS apps tell users tracking helps keep them ‘free of charge’. Read.
  • How to support someone with depression virtually. Read.

Wishing you a great week!

Oluwanifemi Kolawole & Emmanuel Paul for Techpoint Africa.

Techpoint Africa
Techpoint Africa

Techpoint Africa is a digital media company that amplifies the best innovations out of Africa through its mediadata, and events.

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