MTN is well on course to transition from a telecommunications company (TelCo) to a full-fledged, digital-first technology company (TechCo), Chief Executive Officer of its country division, Selorm Adadevoh, has affirmed.
In an interaction with investors and other stakeholders at a ‘Facts behind the Figures’ session hosted by the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE), Mr. Adadevoh said the drive forms part of its medium-term strategy under its ‘Ambition 2025’ umbrella, adding that the goal is a robust ecosystem within the country and across the continent.
“The strategy under Ambition 2025 takes us from a pure-play TelCo to becoming a TechCo. We are looking at a strategic intent to lead digital solutions for Africa’s progress… Before the pandemic hit, our focus was on becoming a digital operator – on internal digitalisation. After the pandemic, we are convinced that the ecosystem around us also needs to be digitalised,” he explained.
The MTN CEO further said that his outfit intends to use its platform as the foundation upon which other players within the ecosystem can accelerate their respective digitalisation agenda.
“There would be no benefit to the world if only MTN is digitalised. We are looking at how we can go beyond being merely a digital operator and actually enable the ecosystem around us to become digital. We can do that by allowing our platforms by external parties to accelerate digitalisation. That is what becoming a technology company is. We are going to develop these platforms that other companies can access and they themselves become more digital,” he added.
Data is king
Consistent with global trends, MTN has seen the data arm of its business prosper, with a steady decline in voice usage and contribution to revenue.
The company saw its subscriber-base grow by 1 million users to 25.4 million, representing a 3.9 percent appreciation year-on-year (YoY). Data traffic was up by more than 50 percent, leading to a corresponding growth in data revenue to GH¢2.8 billion on account of changes in consumer usage behaviour. Active data users inched up to 12.4 million
The casualty from the growth in data remained voice revenue, which declined on a YoY basis by 4.9 percent to GH¢2.6 billion. Consequently, the contribution of voice to service revenue declined by 7.7 percent. 3G and 4G coverage were at 97 and 90.6 percent respectively at the end of 2021.
Accordingly, MTN is adjusting to cater to customers who are increasingly becoming more immersed in their digital spaces and exploring more of the internet, as evidenced by its recent minimalist rebrand, Mr. Adadevoh added.
“As far as data goes, we have seen a significant change in consumer behaviour, not only are new consumers coming on board to use data but also existing customers are using data and this has been accelerated, primarily since the advent of COVID-19.
The data story is not only about connectivity, the next step is to shift towards content and consumption, allowing users more options with the internet of things and other uses. The demands of consumers underscore why the need for 5G is so high,” he said.
MTN, he added, is seeking to invest more in other services that can give it a balanced portfolio of revenue and diversify its product offerings, including mobile financial services, digital services, and enterprise.
Despite a focus on its so-called ‘super app’ – Ayoba – to drive its strategy, Mr. Adadevoh stated that voice will still continue to play a significant role, albeit, smaller.
“In terms of voice, we still have growth but we do not anticipate that growth to continue to increase and we will expect that number to continue to go down on the coming years.
Our plan is to figure out how to make voice, at least, have a certain value proposition in the marketplace but also use voice as a way to drive activity in our network and business.”
Responding to concerns about the -5.1 percent dip in digital revenue to GH¢200 million, the MTN CEO said it was due to a combination of the application of a different accounting principle and cleanup of its digital products and services to enhance transparency to customers.
Managing Director of the GSE, Peterson Ekow Afedzie, commended MTN for its performance since its listing and particularly since the advent of the pandemic. He urged other companies to seriously consider listing on the Exchange, using MTN as a case-in-point.
MTN is committed to paying a total dividend of 11.5 pesewas per share for full year 2021, consisting of 3 pesewas interim dividend and 8.5 pesewas final dividend. This is consistent with its guidance to pay out 60 to 80 percent of post-tax profit.