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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Investment in telecom hits N1.2 tr

… As MTN Group achieves 24m subs

By Remmy Nweke

Investments in the nation’s burgeoning telecommunications industry has reached over $10 billion, about N1,283,350,000,000 trillion, just as the growth rate per annum is expected to hit 8 million lines by the end of the decade.

This is coming as MTN Group has achieved a total of 24,185,000 million subscribers across its operations.

Communications Minister, Chief Cornelius Adebayo, made this disclosure at the official opening of the sixth Computer, Telecommunication and Office Equipment (CTO-06) exhibition and conferences in Lagos, Tuesday.

“Investment in the sector is now well over $10 billion up from only $10 million in 1999,” he declared.

He noted that the annual growth rate is expected to increase to over 8 million lines per annum by 2010 from the average growth rate of four million lines per annum since 2001.

“Thus making the country the biggest mobile market in Africa by 2010 with a penetration of 41 per cent,” he said, noting that before now, Nigeria has recorded an average growth of four million lines per annum since 2001.

Also, he said that as a result of this tremendous growth, the nation’s telecommunications sector is now regarded as one of the most lucrative for investment which is favourable to the economy.

“Thereby competing with the banking sector for second place after petroleum,” he said.

Pointing out that the improved access to telephone in the country has a positive impact on virtually all facets of life cutting across politics, social and economic activities, even as government decision-making process is now faster.

Chief Adebayo equally said, at this year’s event with theme “Leveraging Franchising for Business Growth and National Development” that government is not resting on its oars, but would continue to improve on the quality of networks and other Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure.

“We are working hard with the private sector to further improve on the identified areas of weakness,” he assured.

Also speaking, Consul General of the United States’ Consulate General Lagos, Mr. Brain Browne, said in his key note address on “Franchising – America’s key to success” that nowadays, any person who signs a contract wants to know what should be the situation in about 10 years to come without any change.

He posited that good judicial system is imperative to successful franchising in a country so as to enable businesses to thrive.

Rule of law and sound economy, he said, must be built and this would be followed by the use of technologies to drive economic growth.

The minister and Mr. Browne later declared the event opened.

In a related development, MTN Group has announced the achievement of over 24 million subscribers across its operations, which is 55 per cent year-on-year growth in subscriber numbers in its operations to 24,185,000.

This, MTN group said, represents a 4 per cent increase since the last reported period ended December 31, 2005.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Mr Phuthuma Nhleko, MTN Group, said this record excludes operations acquired in the previous financial period, year-on-year subscriber growth which he placed at 43 per cent.

According to him, international operations of the telco recorded a total of 13,986,000 subscribers, an increase of 8 per cent since December 2005, now accounting for 58 per cent of the group’s subscriber base as at December 31, 2005, which he placed at 56 per cent.

Hence, MTN Nigeria remains the biggest of the international operations, with its closing base of 9,036,000 being 65 per cent of the group’s subscribers outside of South Africa.

“These figures reflect the development of the MTN Group into an increasingly diversified entity. The anticipated conclusion of our partnership with Investcom will accelerate this trend. We remain focused on improving performance in every operation and our regionalised management structure will support our efforts,” the CEO asserted.

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