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 Thursday, 03 July 2008

At the end of Q1 08, there were 42.3m mobile customers in South Africa, meaning it was surpassed by Nigeria as Africa’s largest market. This was mostly due to a strong quarter in Nigeria, but the loss of 0.61m South African customers in Q1 certainly helped. This decline also meant that South Africa failed to break the 100% penetration barrier, having reached 97.9% at the end of 2007; the loss of customers saw it slide to 96.6%.

3G customers: Vodacom and MTN

This still makes it the highest-penetrated sub-Saharan market, although having reached 104.9% at the end of Q1 08, Libya has become the first African market to surpass the 100% mark.

Vodacom suffered the greatest loss in real terms, shedding 0.79m active customers to slide back to 22.27m, lower even than the Q3 07 figure of 22.50m. Year on year it gained 1.70m. It remains the country’s clear market leader with 52.6% of the total, although this is its lowest figure since Q4 04. Cell C also saw a decline in customers - perhaps inevitably, given its dramatic gain in Q4 07. It lost 0.19m to slide back below 5m to 4.91m, with net annual additions totalling 1.68m. In terms of market share, it lost 0.3pp quarter on quarter but still recorded a rise compared to Q1 07, ending Q1 08 on 11.6%. Third player MTN was the only operator to gain customers on a net basis in the first quarter, finishing up 0.37m on 15.17m. Combined with the other operators’ losses, this saw it reach its highest market share figure for three years, with 35.8% of the total.

MTN has also seen its share of the 3G market rise, a 10pp year on year gain taking its Q1 08 figure to 46.2% of the total. It went through the 1m barrier during Q1 to finish on 1.12m thanks to a record-breaking 211k quarterly net additions. Vodacom finished on 1.30m. In total, the number of W-CDMA handsets grew by 163.6% year on year, from 0.9m to 2.4m.

Because of the loss of customers in Q1 - the first such quarterly decline in more than six years - annual growth slumped to 14.4%, the lowest figure since Q2 02.

Source: Cellular News.