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Zweli Mokgata

Zweli Mokgata

JSE-listed mobile phone giant MTN boosted revenue by 42percent on the strength of its 2006 acquisition of Dubai-based telecommunications company Investcom.

Revenue was R73,1billion for the full year to the end of December last year compared with R51,59 the previous year.

The sudden jump in revenue was largely due to the R43,7billion acquisition of Investcom in the second half of 2006.

Phuthuma Ntleko, MTN's chief executive, said yesterday at the company's results presentation: "Last year was the first full year impact of the Investcom acquisition, but even if we ring fence Investcom we see that the company has grown by 30percent."

Excluding the Investcom investment, the company earned R58,2billion last year compared to R45,6billion in the previous year, a growth rate of 27,8percent.

"We have grown substantially in Nigeria and Ghana where we were instructed to stop promotions for two months owing to congestion on our network. Demand is outstripping supply (network capacity) in key markets," said Nhleko.

Last year MTN's average revenue per user (ARPU) declined marginally in almost all of its operations due to its increased penetration into lower income and lower usage segments, such as Afghanistan and Cyprus.

The group's average ARPU tumbled from $19 (about R152) in 2006 to $16 last year.

In Nigeria the company's R10,3billion expansion project was slowed down by the country's regulators who ordered the company to pay back $1,50 to each subscriber for poor service.

The company said it would focus on capital expenditure to improve network size and boost subscriber numbers. Last year the company spent R15,3billion in capital expenditure especially in Nigeria where it has 16,5 million subscribers, almost 2 million more that its South African subscriber base.

This year the company has set aside more than R30billion for capital expenditure across its 21 operations, which will go to upgrading its 3G network and the completion of its 5000km South African fibre-optic network.

Spiwe Chireka, an ICT analyst at Frost and Sullivan, said: "Data will continue to be a major growth area for MTN, as most of its market in Africa has mobile data penetration rates of less than 10percent at present."