MTN Group announces leadership changes

MTN Group has announced that current MTN Zambia CEO, Philip van Dalsen will be leaving MTN at the end of September. Philip joined MTN in 2012 as CEO of MTN Cyprus. In January this year, he moved to MTN Zambia in the same capacity.

MTN Rwanda CEO, Bart Hofker, will take over the reins from van Dalsen, effective October. Hofker is a senior commercial telecom executive with extensive experience in mobile, fixed and integrated businesses. MTN also announced that Mitwa Kaemba Ng’ambi has been appointed as the new CEO of MTN Rwanda. Ng’ambi, is a seasoned leader with a career spanning more than 10 years in telecoms and returns to MTN where she previously held the role of Chief Marketing Officer at MTN Benin and several other roles at MTN Zambia.

She has a strong background in commercial and technology with a track-record of driving business strategy for growth, as well as developing high-performing teams. She also has the unique experience of leading mergers and acquisitions in the telecom industry. Ng’ambi joins MTN from Airtel Tigo Ghana, where she held the role of CEO. Prior to which, she was CEO of Tigo Senegal. She has a Masters Degree in Computer Science from the University of Joensuu, Finland and Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Science from the University of Namibia.

Changes in Cote d’Ivoire

CEO of MTN Cote d’Ivoire Freddy Tchala will be leaving MTN at the end of September. Tchala has been with MTN for 17 years and has had a remarkable journey with the company. After leaving MTN Cameroon, he served as CEO in Guinea Conakry and Congo Brazzaville, before joining MTN Cote d’Ivoire four years ago. MTN will make an announcement in due course regarding a successor to Tchala.


MTN Group stands against xenophobia and damage to property, closes stores in Nigeria as a precaution

MTN Group reiterates its stand against any form of xenophobia and damage to property and remains concerned about the situation in its markets.

MTN confirms that over the last day four MTN outlets in Nigeria have been the subject of attacks and we have had to close some stores in Johannesburg. There are no reported injuries.

While we remain committed to providing uninterrupted services, the safety and security of our customers, staff and partners is our primary concern. MTN’s stores and service centres in Nigeria have therefore been closed as a precaution.

MTN is working with the relevant authorities and other stakeholders to focus on stabilising the situation both in Nigeria and South Africa and to ensure the safety and well-being of all those impacted by the unfortunate violence. We are also looking at coordinating with key stakeholders to work on medium to long term interventions to this situation.

As a company, we remain committed to ensuring a peaceful, harmonious and respectful relationship with all our stakeholders across Africa.

MTN condemns violence and xenophobia

As MTN we strongly condemn prejudice and xenophobia and we reiterate our unequivocal condemnation of any and all violence. As a leading pan-African telecommunications company with operations in 21 countries, MTN believes in the potential of an Africa whose nations pursue deeper trade, integration and cooperation. We actively encourage the dialogue necessary to maintain peace and sustain strong relationships and urge all our customers and stakeholders to support and defend the principles of human rights, diversity and inclusion and an integrated collaborative Africa.

MTN reports solid 2019 interim financial results

MTN Group today announced it has shown encouraging progress under difficult trading conditions. The Group saw growth of 12% in adjusted headline earnings per share, which is the first time that we have delivered growth in this measure in recent years. Commercially, the subscriber base continues to grow, increasing by a further 7,7 million to now number more than 240 million across operations.

Looking forward the Group is well-positioned to grow by leveraging its scale and enhancing its competitive position as it transitions into a digital operator.

Listen to MTN Group President & CEO, Rob Shuter, commenting on the interim results:


MTN is breaking the demographic divide


Increasing access to economic and transactional services for all


Make a big difference in the continent


MTN invested R12 billion in building world-class network


MTN reports solid financial results, good commercial momentum and encouraging strategic progress

MTN Group today announced an encouraging set of results for the six months ended 30 June 2019 in the context of difficult trading conditions across its major markets.

Commenting on the results, Rob Shuter, MTN Group President and CEO, said:

“We had a good first half, reporting solid financial results, good commercial momentum and encouraging strategic progress. We saw growth of 12% in adjusted headline earnings per share, which is the first time that we have delivered growth in this measure in recent years. Our service revenue grew just below 10% and EBITDA just above 10%, both on a constant currency basis. Our holding company leverage remains stable at 2.3x, well within our guidance range of 2 to 2.5x. And, as we grew revenue and carefully managed our investment programme, we saw capex intensity drop further, to 16,9%.

Commercially, we had strong subscriber growth of 7,7 million in the first six months of the year to reach a total of 240 million subscribers.  The number of active data users grew by 3,5 million to 82 million and our 30-day active Mobile Money users grew by 2,4 million to 30 million. Our continued focus on the customer experience has seen us record brand NPSˆ leadership across more than 50% of the portfolio, with 12 markets now leading. That contributed to MTN being named the most valuable South African brand in the Brand Finance South Africa 50 report and the most admired African brand by Brand Africa 100.  

During the period we had some landmark events. We successfully completed the listing of MTN Nigeria on the Nigerian Stock Exchange and our e-commerce joint venture Jumia listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Within three months of announcing our asset realisation programme, which is targeting at least R15 billion over the next few years, we delivered R2,1 billion in proceeds.

Our advanced instant messaging platform, Ayoba, is now live in three of our West African markets and has more than 300 000 active monthly users. We are very pleased with the formal approval of our super-agent licence in Nigeria, which clears the way for the launch of phase 1 of our Nigeria fintech business while we await a banking licence.”

 Operating environment

 In South Africa, the group contended with a weak macroeconomic environment as well as the introduction of new end-user requirements and the repricing of out-of-bundle data rates. In Nigeria, economic activity was muted in the time of presidential elections and prior to the formation of the cabinet. In Iran, the rial weakened sharply after the re-imposition of US sanctions.

Financial performance

Notwithstanding this environment, in constant currency terms, service revenue grew by 9,7% to R67,9 billion and earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) expanded by 10,2% to R31,2 billion. The holding company net debt to EBITDA ratio remained stable at 2.3x, which is well within the group’s guidance range of 2.0 to 2.5x, and capex intensity dropped further to 16.9%, indicating greater efficiency in deploying assets.

Looking ahead, Shuter says:

“MTN is well positioned to grow by leveraging our scale and enhancing our competitive position.

 In the second half, in South Africa we will focus on the continued turnaround of the enterprise business, the recovery of prepaid and the launch of Mobile Money. In Nigeria, we will focus on the further rollout of 4G coverage, the launch of Ayoba and Music Time! as well as accelerating our fintech ambitions by fully leveraging our extensive distribution network to offer a range of transfer and payment services to our GSM customer base.

 Across the rest of the portfolio we have six focus areas. These are: the continued turnaround of our operations in the West and Central Africa region; the resolution of some of the more complicated regulatory situations; the rollout of MusicTime! and Ayoba across the group; the asset realisation programme; launch of our pan-African MTN 4 Good campaign and delivering on our medium-term targets.”

View our Interim results for 2019 here.

CFO of the Year: MTN’s problem-solving CFO

Two years into his role as MTN CFO, Ralph Mupita received four CFO Awards, including CFO of the Year, for the pivotal part he’s played in turning MTN around. CFO South Africa met with Ralph to learn more about the man behind the strategy and the awards. What emerged was a clear picture that this engineer has turned his mind to solving problems in telecommunications, finance and the African continent. By Georgina Guedes, CFO Magazine.

At the CFO Awards 2019, Sugentharen Perumal, executive: group finance operations at MTN, walked up to the stage to accept an award on behalf of Ralph Mupita, not once, but four times. He was accepting the awards because Ralph, MTN CFO, who was voted CFO of the Year, along with taking home the Strategy Execution, High-Performance Team and Finance Transformation awards, was unable to attend the awards ceremony. This was because he was in Nigeria, listing MTN Nigeria on the local stock exchange. This was a crucial step for the telecommunications giant, and also a significant contributor to the strategy that propelled Ralph to his CFO Awards success.

The Nigeria listing was the end point of a long-term plan to resolve some complex issues in the country. To say that MTN has had a difficult time in Nigeria in recent times is an understatement. Many of the issues were inherited when Ralph and CEO Rob Shuter took the helm two years ago, but it fell to them to resolve these various challenges, including a demand by the Central Bank of Nigeria for $8 billion of dividends to be repatriated to the country, a $2 billion tax demand by the Attorney General, and ensuring that the agreement related to the 2015 SIM registration fine of $1.6 billion is fully implemented. One of the conditions of the SIM registration fine was to list the business in Nigeria, which was achieved by 16 May 2019, the day after the CFO Awards.

Coming in a very busy and complex week for Ralph, his awards recognition was uplifting news – and he was glad that his team was there. “I am very appreciative of the recognition. For me it was really about my team. I’ve had a strong team working in the background supporting some of the listing activities. And some of those people were in the room for the awards. I’m glad they were there, even though I couldn’t be.” He added that he felt very humbled considering the “class acts” among the others who were nominated. “It couldn’t have been easy for the judges.” He does confess to a sense of relief that the two processes – the Nigeria listing and the “interesting” but intensive awards interview process – had come to an end.

The engineer in a finance role

 Ralph is an engineer by training. He went to UCT to study after completing schooling in his native Zimbabwe 30 years ago. “I worked on engineering and construction sites all around the Western Cape, then kind of drifted towards doing an MBA. In the middle of those studies, I realised I wanted to move away from engineering, and I ended up in financial services, working at Old Mutual for 17 years – even though I started with a one-year plan – and ultimately serving as the CEO of Old Mutual Emerging Markets.” Then, he received a call from Phuthuma Nhleko, the former CEO and non-executive chairman of MTN Group board. “Halfway through him drinking his tea, me drinking my coffee, he said, ‘How would you like to join MTN?’ Initially, I chuckled. Then I went home and asked my wife, Makole Maponya – who is a CA – what she thought of the proposition. I’d never worked in a CFO role. It took me all of two days to think about it. Having reflected, I felt I could take up the role and be part of a leadership team that would put the business into a stronger position to take advantage of the opportunities that digital and financial inclusion presented in Africa and the Middle East. MTN was looking for a CFO who could go beyond the traditional role of the CFO and add a few more things.”

Ralph did some further research and was reassured to discover that many global CFOs are not CAs, and that in South Africa, somewhere between 20 and 30 percent of listed companies’ CFOs also do not hold the qualification. “Obviously you need someone who understands numbers. And I see numbers as a language that tell me why things are the way they are. Having trained as an engineer, I am very comfortable with numbers. I believe the most important thing about them is that they have integrity.” While the change from being a CEO to a CFO was an unusual one, Ralph was encouraged when he recalled that one of the people he had looked up to, Tidjane Thiam, CEO of Credit Suisse, was once a CEO before taking on the role of CFO. “It’s unusual, but it happens.” He also points out that while bringing a financial services CEO into a telecommunications company might not seem like the most obvious move, there’s a certain logic to it. “At MTN, we firmly believe that the future of financial services is on the phone, so my appointment isn’t as unusual as it might appear on the face of it.”

The other experience Ralph had gained in financial services that was now becoming increasingly important was capital allocation and a focus on returns.

A curious mind

Ralph says that his curious mind has served him well as he’s shifted industries twice in his career. “I’ve always had the view that you must be constantly learning and have a mindset that says when you get into new situations, you should immerse yourself and become the situation you are in. I’m blessed that I am always curious and always able to adapt.”

He’s found mentors to support him in his learning and growth journey. “When I moved from engineering to finance, one of my mentors told me that there were five things that I needed to understand the industry and its value chain, and then those things each branch into another five things. It was a useful way to get a real grasp of the sector.”

He says that always being a bit of an outsider has helped him to ask interesting questions that deliver new insights. “Coming into financial services, the learning curve was pretty steep. There’s always a year to 18 months that’s difficult, and during which time I was learning every day.” He went through the knowledge acquisition process all over again when he joined MTN. “I’m still learning and will continue learning. There’s always that first 18 months of the steep learning curve, but then I get more comfortable and start picking things up almost intuitively rather than learning them.”

The other transition, that of moving from being the CEO to a CFO, also took some adjusting. “The CEO is where the buck stops, but a CFO needs to be an advisor, not only to the CEO but also to the company. It’s a strong advisory role. Also, the CFO is there to provide balance to decisions – to provide strategic thinking and highlight the financial effects of decisions. Or at least that’s how I work with Rob – providing balance, giving a risk-based view, providing clear options and working through the consequences of those options, and testing their soundness based on the data, instinct and history.”

He adds that he’d been fortunate to work with Rob before, when Rob was at Nedbank and Ralph was at Old Mutual, which was helpful in the transition. “I must also commend Rob for helping me on the learning journey because he had also made the transition from financial services to working in telecommunications, working for two years as a CFO at Vodacom, before becoming a regional CEO there.”

He says that he has to credit Phuthuma Nhleko for his support. The opportunity to work with Phuthuma was one of the benefits of joining MTN, as far as Ralph was concerned. Phuthuma, like Tidjane Thiam, has been a role model over the last two decades for Ralph. “He’s another engineer MBA, and engaging with him has helped me to learn a lot about the industry and business more generally. Between Phuthuma and Rob, I’ve learnt a lot.”

MTN culture and values

Aside from the change in industry and role, working in any new organisation comes with a cultural adjustment. “What was very helpful coming into MTN just over two years ago was that the values deep within the company are my own personal values – having a can-do attitude, teamwork is key, believing that everyone deserves the benefits of a modern, connected life, where digital connectivity and financial inclusion is critical. And as I have already mentioned, we’re making a difference on the African continent, which I am passionate about.” His engineering background means that he likes to solve problems. MTN presented him with the opportunity to do just this. “It’s in my DNA, my make-up to solve problems. And the more complex they are, the better. When I came to MTN in 2017, I was very mindful of the challenges the company was going through.

I was very clear, coming into the situation, that there was a need to make some changes, working with Rob and the broader team, to put the business in a more stable position. It has an industrial strength finance organisation and risk organisation, and I knew I was coming in with those key things.”

He says that when he came into the business, he had a list of three-year goals. The first was building a world-class finance function, and he has been making the necessary changes, and will continue to do so. The second priority was capital allocation. “I had the benefit of my financial services experience to see what happens when margins really come under pressure. So we had to reposition the business in a lower margin environment. We had to prioritise putting capital where the returns are going to be. We now have set out a very clear capital allocation process.”

His third priority was to enhance the risk control environment. And the final goal was to build a culture of excellence. “A culture of excellence never gets to its destination. It’s always improving.”

Read the full article here:


MTN Nigeria progresses on its Fintech strategy following Central Bank award of full Super Agent Licence

MTN Nigeria today announced that its subsidiary, Yello Digital Financial Services Limited (“YDFS”) has been granted a full Super Agent Licence by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The Super Agent licence enables the scale launch of MTN Nigeria’s fintech strategy. The licence will enable MTN to convert their existing airtime agents and recruit other small businesses to distribute financial services.

YDFS received approval in principle for its Super-Agent Licence in December 2018 and has been conducting a pilot project since then to meet the conditions of a full licence. The successful pilot has now led to the granting of a full licence under which YDFS will distribute financial services to all Nigerians.

Commenting on the licence, MTN CEO Ferdi Moolman said: “We are very pleased that YDFS has been granted a Super-Agent Licence, which enables us to extend access to financial services to a much broader group of Nigerians. This forms part of our commitment to contribute towards the achievement of Nigeria’s financial inclusion goals. Through the network established by YDFS MTN is in a position to broaden the availability of financial services for the under-served across the country. This marks a very important first step in leveraging our infrastructure to scale our Fintech initiatives. We have also applied for a Payment Service Bank Licence, which will enable us in time to offer a broader and deeper range of financial services to those communities and we remain hopeful we will receive approval shortly.”




Summary of MTN Nigeria unaudited results for the six months ended 30 June 2019


  • Service revenue increased by 12.2%
  • Voice revenue increased by 11.4%
  • Data revenue increased by 31.7%
  • Fintech revenue increased by 21.2%
  • Digital revenue decreased by 64.5%
  • EBITDA grew by 40.0% to N304.9 billion (IAS 17: 16.2% to N253.0 billion)
  • EBITDA margin increased by 10.7 pp to 53.8% (IAS 17: 44.6%, up 1.5pp)
  • Capex increased by 63.8% to N105.8 billion (IAS 17: 48.9% to N96.1 billion)
  • Mobile subscribers increased by 3.3 million to 61.5 million

MTN Nigeria Communications Plc (“MTN Nigeria” or “the Company”) is one of Africa’s largest providers of communications services, connecting over 61 million people in communities across the country with each other and the world.

Guided by a vision to lead the delivery of a bold new digital world, MTN Nigeria’s leadership position in coverage, capacity and innovation has remained constant since its launch in 2001. MTN Nigeria is part of the MTN Group – a multinational telecommunications group which operates in 21 countries in Africa and the Middle East.

MTN Nigeria announces its unaudited results for the six months ended 30 June 2019. In January 2019, MTN Nigeria adopted IFRS 16 accounting standards in line with global best practice and adjustments are reflected in the results. All financial comparisons are year-on-year (YoY) unless otherwise stated. All subscriber numbers are compared to end of December 2018 unless otherwise stated. This announcement is the responsibility of the MTN Nigeria board of directors.

 MTN Nigeria CEO, Ferdi Moolman comments:

In the first half of 2019, we sustained a solid performance, delivering double-digit growth in service revenue, underpinned by growth in voice and data revenue. We added 3.3 million customers to our network, increasing our subscriber base to 61.5 million. Pleasingly, we saw data subscribers increase in the period by 2.1 million to 20.7 million.

We made significant network investments to improve network quality and expand our 4G coverage. Our recent work to revamp our data prices and accelerate our 4G network has put us in a strong competitive position to offer more value to our customers, supporting data and voice revenue growth which will ultimately strengthen our business.

We are pleased with obtaining a super-agent licence from the Central Bank of Nigeria, which will enable us to build an agent network and accelerate the growth of our fintech business.

In May, MTN Nigeria was successfully listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), making us the first mobile network operator to list on the NSE. The listing demonstrates our commitment to the Nigerian market and provides local investors with an opportunity to participate in and benefit from the company’s growth prospects.

We made changes to our board following the retirement of six pioneer non-executive directors on the expiration of their tenure and in compliance with applicable corporate governance codes. We express our heartfelt appreciation to our outgoing directors for their contributions to the success of the company. We also welcome the incoming directors whose combination of extensive experience across the worlds of technology, finance, regulatory and policy development and corporate governance offers a hugely synergistic set of skills that will be of great benefit to us as we move into a new phase of growth.

Our Chief Financial Officer, Mr. Adekunle Awobodu has indicated his intention to resign from the position of the CFO of the company in the second half of 2019 for family-related reasons. The identification of a suitable successor has reached an advanced stage to facilitate a seamless transition. To ensure continuity on certain projects, Mr Awobodu has graciously accepted to continue to support the company on a consultancy basis. The board extends its appreciation to Mr. Awobodu for his contributions to the growth of the company.

In line with our dividend policy guidance at listing, the board has approved a maiden interim dividend as a listed company, of N2.95 kobo per share to be paid out distributable net income.”

Operational review

MTN Nigeria delivered a solid performance, with strong voice (+11.4%) and data revenue (+31.7%) driving double-digit service revenue growth and further improving the margin on earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA).

Voice revenue growth was supported by an increase in subscribers (+5.7%), relatively stable tariffs and our focus on pro-consumer activities. This was boosted by our targeted customer value management (CVM) initiatives. Data revenue growth was driven by an increased number of smartphones on the

network, greater data usage and growth in the number of active data users. We added 2.5 million smartphones, increasing smartphone penetration by 2.1pp to 39.2%. Active data subscribers increased by 11.0% to 20.7 million and data traffic rose by 67% YoY.

Our fintech business continued to gain momentum with 21.2% growth in revenue YoY. The super-agent licence will allow us to leverage our established distribution channels to offer a wide range of mobile financial services. We will continue to work towards obtaining a payment service banking licence that we applied for in late 2018. Digital revenue continued to be impacted by the optimisation of value-added services (VAS). However, our focus is to build a sustainable base of active digital users in order to boost revenue growth. Our enterprise business also delivered satisfactory results, with revenue increasing by 31.3%, to contribute 11.9% to service revenue.

We recorded an EBITDA margin of 53.8% on account of the implementation of IFRS 16. On an IAS 17 basis, operating expenses increased by 9.7%, below inflation. The 1.5pp improvement in the EBITDA margin was supported by a stable naira against the US dollar benefiting our operating expenses as well as lower digital expenses arising from our VAS optimisation initiatives. Our bottom line remained strong with 30.9% and 34.8% growth in profit before and after tax respectively, while earnings per share increased by 34.8% to 486 kobo.

Corporate and legal matters

The hearing on the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) matter, which was originally scheduled to be held on June 26, 2019 for commencement of trial on the substantive issue before the court was adjourned to October 29 and 31 2019. We remain resolute that MTN Nigeria has not committed any offence and will continue to defend this position.

The redemption of MTN Nigeria’s preference shares has always been envisaged as a necessary part of the simplification of our capital structure. The redemption process is underway and will be completed after necessary regulatory process.


Our overriding priority for the rest of the year is to focus on our BRIGHT strategy to build a sustainable business and create value for customers. We will continue to progress in the second half of the year, making improvements to our network experience, subscriber growth and enhance operational efficiency. We expect lower data pricing and our acceleration of the 4G network expansion to bolster the acquisition of customers and data traffic volumes in the second half.

This announcement is only a summary of the information in the full announcement and does not contain full or complete details. Please visit for the unaudited results for the six months ended 30 June 2019.

MTN Group appoints Thato Motlanthe as its new IR executive

MTN Group has appointed Thato Motlanthe to the position of Executive for Investor Relations, with effect from 1 September 2019. Thato replaces Nik Kershaw who left MTN Group at the end of May 2019, and will report to Ralph Mupita, MTN Group CFO.

Thato brings to the role extensive experience of South African and global capital markets, having worked in both the sell-side and buy-side of equity capital markets. He joins MTN from Absa Asset Management, where he held the role of Portfolio Manager, co-managing the flagship funds within the Equities franchise. Prior to this, he has held senior positions at STANLIB Asset Management, Citigroup Global Markets and UBS Investment Bank over a career spanning 16 years.

“I am excited to join a company with an incredibly strong pan-African and Middle East footprint, great market positions and attractive assets. MTN Group is well positioned to capture growth from digital and financial inclusion”, said Thato.

Commenting on Thato’s appointment, MTN Group CFO Ralph Mupita said, “We are pleased to have secured someone of Thato’s experience and leadership profile. Thato will play a critical role in the management and building of the investor base for MTN Group, as well as ensuring that the communication of the investment case of our “Digital Operator” strategy remains clear and compelling for stakeholders.”

Group Chief Digital and Fintech Officer

MTN Group today announces the appointment of Yolanda Cuba as Group Chief Digital and Fintech Officer. Yolanda will join the MTN Group Executive Committee reporting to the Group CEO Rob Shuter. In this role Yolanda will lead the Group’s strategic expansion of its financial services and digital solutions efforts and transformation into a digital operator.

Yolanda brings extensive telecommunications and leadership experience to MTN Group. She joins MTN Group from Vodacom, where she served as Chief Officer of Strategy and M&A. She was previously the CEO of Vodafone Ghana for a three-year period, a role that saw her named Telecom CEO of the Year in 2018.

“This role gives me the opportunity to drive digital innovation and financial inclusion across the Group’s vast footprint. I’m really looking forward to the new challenge and being part of the MTN leadership team”, said Yolanda.

Rob Shuter said, “We are very pleased to bring an executive of Yolanda’s calibre into MTN Group. Yolanda is a highly qualified and experienced executive, with a unique combination of operational telecommunications experience as well as finance, financial services and digital skills. I am confident that Yolanda’s leadership will place us in good stead as we intensify our efforts to build a digital ecosystem and scale our fintech offering across our markets”.

Under Yolanda’s leadership, MTN will continue to progressively grow the fintech and digital opportunities in Africa as we see these areas as major drivers of our BRIGHT growth strategy. Yolanda’s start date will be communicated in due course.

Further reading