The MTN Group is looking to sell more shares in Ghana than Nigeria

MTN Nigeria wants to borrow N400 billion

With no definite date yet, MTN Nigeria is looking forward to raising the sum of $500 million, disposing of about 30% stake in the business by getting listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

And just recently, MTN Ghana launched an Initial Public Offering (IPO) to raise about $743 million for a 35% stake in the business unit.

It’s obvious that MTN Group is raising more money from its IPO in Ghana than that of Nigeria’s despite the fact that the latter has a significantly higher subscriber base.

According to the National Communications Authority of Ghana, Ghanaian business unit of MTN Group has 16,969,311 subscribers (PDF) as of April 2017. And based on the latest figures from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), MTN Nigeria has 65,209,222 from 58,121,427 as at April 2017.

And figures from the group’s financial results for the year 2017 (PDF), Earning Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortisation (EBITDA) in Nigeria is R14,041 million, compared to Ghana’s unit which had R4,116 million.

In spite of these figures, the question that still begs for an answer is why the group is raising more money and selling more stake of its Ghanaian unit than its Nigerian counterpart.

The listing of MTN Nigeria is a condition for a 2015 fine imposed by NCC, for the Ghana business unit, the listing is in fulfilment of one of the conditions reached with the Ghanaian government in 2015 on acquiring the right to use fourth generation spectrum to serve its customers.

There have been cases of the regulatory authority —  NCC — imposing fine on telecom operators for poor quality of service in the past. And telcos have been decrying the multiple taxations by the government at various levels.

Over a decade, the fundamental problems of the industry still include power, multiple taxations, bureaucracy and vandalism of telecom infrastructure. But in spite of these challenges, the amount of money the company is raising from its Nigerian unit is an indication that the group is not ready to lose control of MTN Nigeria.