MTN invested R10.9 billion to boost South African network

MTN pushed its network availability to 95% in its home market in South Africa, as it invested billions of rand to upgrade sites with batteries, generators, renewable energy and enhanced security to overcome power cuts in the country. 

Africa’s biggest wireless carrier by customers said on Tuesday it invested R10.6 billion in capital expenditure and leases year-to-date in South Africa, plus another R1.9 billion to add spectrum in its biggest market.

The spending was necessary to lift network capacity that’s been challenged by South Africa’s subdued economic growth, site vandalization and the country’s deepening energy crisis that can inflict daily electricity cuts, known locally as load shedding.

“Power outages in South Africa continued to be a challenge,” MTN Group President and CEO Ralph Mupita said in a statement.

“However, the significant progress made in our network resilience program, combined with lower load shedding during the third quarter, supported average network availability of above 95%.”

Africa’s most developed economy has been struggling to deal with an electricity shortage that is handicapping economic growth and the creation of jobs that are badly needed.

Private firms have stepped into the gap by building their own electricity supplies while also beefing up security to stop people stealing solar panels or the fuel for their private generators. 

MTN managed to increase its service revenue in South Africa by 4.1% year-on-year in the third quarter to 31 billion rand. The company has 36.8 million customers in the country. 

The company said it aims to conclude a deal for a minority stake in its fintech business with Mastercard by the fourth quarter of the year.

It said it’s also in the regulatory approval stages to exit Afghanistan and continues discussions to exit three of its smaller operations in Guinea-Bissau, Guinea and Liberia.


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