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The battle for market leadership in Afghanistan took another twist in Q3 08, with Roshan regaining first place from Afghan Wireless. The latter first took the lead in Q4 07, although it was ahead by just 3k customers; however, this advantage increased to 130k at the end of Q1 08. Roshan fought back in Q2 08, narrowing the deficit to 30k, and Q3 08 saw it surge ahead with 2.34m customers to 2.20m for Afghan Wireless.
Roshan/ Afghan Wireless Customers, Q4 06 Ė Q3 08
The third-placed operator is MTN, and although it remained more than 0.4m customers adrift of second place at the end of Q3 08 with 1.79m, it was by far the fastest growing of the top three. While Roshan and Afghan Wireless both saw annual growth rates of around 45%, MTN more than doubled its customer base year on year with a rate of 104.4%. Roshan topped the market for quarterly net additions for the second successive quarter with a gain of 315k, but MTNís 166k was good enough to beat Afghan Wireless (+ 144k) for the sixth successive quarter. Moreover, in terms of annual net additions MTN led the market with a gain of 916k, compared to 723k for Roshan and 685k for Afghan Wireless.
The fourth player on the market is Etisalat, which launched services in Q3 07. It has performed well in its first full year, finishing Q3 08 with 0.39m customers. It added 115k customers during the quarter, its best result to date, although with just 5.7% market share it remains a minor player. Roshan finished the quarter with 34.8%, while Afghan Wireless had 32.7% and MTN 26.7%.
The total Afghan market grew to 6.72m, with an annual uplift of 66.7%. This was less than half the 139.8% recorded in the prior twelve-month period. Indeed, growth has declined consistently over the past four quarters despite the fact that penetration remains low, with a rate of just 20.4% at the end of Q3 08. It seems highly likely that growth will continue to slow, unless there is any significant change in the countryís economic conditions.
Source: Cellular News.