Who are the Top 10 Operators in the Mid-East and Africa?

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Note -- this news article is more than a year old.

The first quarter of 2007 has seen a number of changes in the composition of the list of largest operators and has also seen a number of milestones being reached. Most notable is the fact that the region now has its first 20m+ customer business in Vodacom of South Africa after the operator broke this barrier half way through the quarter. This is of course the company's active base. If we were to take the number of registered customers at the end of Q1 2007, Vodacom had just passed the 23m mark.

As it is, nine of the top ten operators now have more than 10m customers, Vodafone Egypt being the sole exception.

The ten companies on the list of the largest Middle East and Africa region operators are unchanged quarter on quarter - once again - but there are several positional changes. The aforementioned Vodacom South Africa is still the unchallenged number one with 20.56m active accounts, but two Middle Eastern companies have changed places below it, with TCI of Iran overtaking STC of Saudi Arabia. TCI is close to 16m customers and is being driven by the spur of a new competitor in the region; STC had that two years ago with the entry of Mobily into the market. We expect that the gap between these two - which is currently 630k - will continue to widen given the far greater potential in Iran. It has over twice the population and just one third of the penetration.

MTN, which is also one of the largest multinationals in the region, is in fourth and fifth place, as it was at the end of the last quarter. However, its two top ten representatives have swapped place this time, with MTN Nigeria pushing its South African parent down to fifth. The more northerly company now has 13.4m customers, while back at home, the total is just 13.2m. This means that Vodacom's lead in South Africa has been extended again, to 7.36m, though this is still some way short of the 7.95m seen nine months ago. The sixth company on the list is Globacom, an independent operator in Nigeria. This has been growing dramatically and has closed the gap between it and the market leader, MTN Nigeria to less than 0.5m. Unless there is a significant change in fortunes in the coming quarter, MTN may well lose the top spot in Nigeria to its newer rival.

The other four companies on the top 10 list are all in North Africa. Their relative positions remain unchanged quarter on quarter, with Maroc Telecom's 11.37m strong customer base putting it just ahead of Orascom's Algerian business, which had 11.27m customers at the end of the quarter. Ninth and tenth places go to the Egyptian operators, Mobinil and Vodafone Egypt. The FT/Orascom venture continues to pull away from Vodafone, having tripled the size of the gap between the two over the last six months. The two companies ended Q1 2007 with 10.67m and 9.43m connections respectively. After the quarter closed, a new player backed by UAE's Etisalat has entered the Egyptian market. The latest reports suggest that at the end of June, this venture had acquired nearly one million customers, which is a good start by any standards.

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Top 10 MNOs by Customers

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Tags: etisalat  mtn  mobinil  vodacom  vodafone egypt  mobily  tci  stc 

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