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Nigeria's Bullish Growth Continues in Fourth Quarter

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Nigeria's telecoms regulator the NCC has reported customer numbers for the fourth quarter of 2008. The total customer base reached 62.99m at the end of the year having increased by 55.9% annually. On a quarterly basis, net additions stood at 7.15m, only just short of the national and continental record of 7.38m, set in Q2 08.

For the first time, the NCC released figures for the individual operators in the Nigerian market. Market leader MTN had 23.08m customers at the end of the year having seen a quarterly increase of 2.91m, the all-time record for a Nigerian operator. In second place, Celtel had just under 17.2m customers. It overtook Glo Mobile in Q3 08, principally due to the latter's loss of 0.61m customers. In Q4 08, it consolidated its lead thanks to a net gain of 1.29m, more than double Glo's gain of 0.63m. At the end of the year, Glo had just over 16m customers.

Although these three operators dominate the Nigerian market, there are several relatively new networks which are asserting their presence. All but one of them use CDMA technology, the exception being GSM operator Emerging Markets Telecommunications - which Etisalat of the UAE manages and in which it has an investment - which launched in Q4 08. It performed well in its first quarter, gaining just under 0.4m customers.

However, some of the CDMA operators made even larger gains, and one - Visafone - even managed to outscore the gigantic Glo. With 2.21m customers at the end of the year, Visafone is the largest CDMA operator in the country and the fourth largest network in all. It added 0.98m customers in the quarter, only its fourth of commercial mobile service. Meanwhile, Multi- Links added 0.51m to finish on 1.99m customers, Starcomms gained 0.36m to 1.16m and Reliance added 0.07m to finish on 0.70m in its second quarter of operation.

As a whole, the CDMA sector totals 6.05m customers. This is more than 15 times larger than the year-earlier customer base of 0.38m. Understandably, quarter-on-quarter growth has slowed somewhat, but it remained impressively high in Q4 08 with a rate of 46.7%.


Quarterly Net Additions, Total and CDMA

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