MTN to overcome Nigerian ‘pain’ in 2024

MTN expects Nigeria to overcome the short-term “pain” of President Bola Tinubu’s economic reforms by the middle of next year, helping bolster Africa’s biggest wireless company’s business.

CEO Ralph Mupita said that while it was very necessary for the country to undergo structural reforms in order to move forward, they were causing discomfort for firms operating in the West African nation. 

“With the removal of the subsidy and liberalization of the naira, we always knew it was going to take us a couple of quarters for those shocks to work through the system,” he said in an interview on Bloomberg Television aired on Thursday.

“And beyond that — we see our business being able to pick up growth and repair the profit and earnings profile of the group.”

The naira has plunged since the government eased foreign exchange controls earlier this year, weighing on company earnings, while the removal of fuel subsidies has contributed to inflation.

MTN said it was “very constructive” on Nigeria in the medium-to-long term and that the policy reforms underpinned the investment case for the company in the country. 

Nigeria is MTN’s biggest market by subscribers, and the Lagos-listed unit contributes more than a third of the group’s total revenue. “Nigeria drives growth in digital adoption and financial inclusion.

MTN has Nigeria as a big growth vector for the company,” he said.

The naira has been weakened by a local shortage of dollars, with companies complaining they are unable to repatriate earnings, though the Nigerian government is trying to clear the backlog of dollar demand. 

Finance Minister Wale Edun has said he expects to attract $10 billion of inflows to help clear the overhang, ease liquidity and stabilize the currency.