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Interview: Christian de Faria, MTN’s vice president for Central and West Africa

By Gemma Ware
Posted on Monday, 21 September 2009 00:00

The Africa Report: Nigeria is MTN’s largest market in Africa with 17.8m subscribers. Where do you see the room for growth in the Nigerian market?

Penetration rates in Nigeria have increased tremendously in the last few years. In a market with penetration of 30-40%, there’s still room for growth, especially in the rural areas and at the bottom of the pyramid. We have done a lot of work in the segmentation of the market and we have a unique value-proposition and loyalty programme for each and every consumer group.

??ARPUs seem to be going down across Africa. Is that your experience and is there a limit of ARPU below which MTN doesn’t feel it is cost-effective to invest??

If I take the naira and ARPU, it has been pretty much stable over the years. Of course, with the depreciation of the naira, then of course you will have a reduction in the dollar ARPU. In other markets, we are seeing some pressure linked to usage, linked to the slowdown of economic activity. We have in the last years invested a substantial amount of money to increase our coverage of the population and coverage of the geographical area. I expect that it won’t be necessarily the same level of investment going forward.?

Data currently makes up 8% of MTN’s revenue in Africa. How important will revenues from data be in the next 5-10 years?

Data revenue will be increasing drastically over the next few years. For me, the level of 10% going forward for all operations is a must, and why not more? It really depends on the nature of the development of the economies. There is high demand in all the segments. We are addressing the corporates, we are addressing small and medium enterprises, and in certain countries like Cameroon, we are also already doing packages for the end-consumer to provide connectivity at home. And because of our footprint, there is a high demand from the multinational companies who are present in different countries to link into our network capability across borders.