Despite a tough economic environment that has seen operating costs rise for Nigerian businesses, telecommunications giant, MTN, earned ₦834 billion from its voice services in the first nine months of 2023. Compared to the same period in 2022, voice revenue grew by 10.6%.
However, data revenue maintained its steady growth and is poised to become the major revenue earner for the telco. Year-on-year data revenue grew more than 3x, going from ₦549 billion in the first nine months of 2022 to ₦749 billion in 2023, a 36.4% increase.
This was driven by a growth in the number of active data users – the telco says it added 3.6 million active users in 9M 2023.
Per the Nigerian Communications Commission, mobile internet subscribers in Nigeria grew by 9 million between May 2022 and May 2023. In addition to the growth of active data users, individual data usage grew by 29.1% as data usage per user grew to 8GB.
Smartphone usage by the telco’s users also grew by 53%, causing a 46.3% growth in data traffic. While 4G accounts for 83.7% of total traffic, 5G is seeing some growth, with 560k broadband users in 9M 2023, bringing its total user base to 1.8 million. Currently, the telco’s 5G service covers 7.5% of the country and is on track to reach 10% by the end of 2023.
Beyond data, MTN’s fintech division also saw revenue growth. Fintech revenue grew 5.6% year-on-year, although its active user base fell 20% YoY. The company blamed this slump on the cash crunch witnessed in Q1 and its effect on the payment for over-the-top services. Additionally, 2.8 million users were added to Ayoba, its messaging service.
Mobile money is also growing steadily. Active wallets on MoMo PSB grew to 3.5 million and now account for 40.6% of its fintech user base. Registered MoMo users are up to 27.9 million, while MoMo agents number 293k. Following the naira’s devaluation, operating expenses rose by 34.7%, while profit before tax declined by 42%.