Telecoms market share: Vodacom beats MTN on home grounds


MTN is the telecoms market leader in most of the African countries where it operates, including Ghana, but in its home country, South Africa, Vodacom (Vodafone) remains the market leaders. 

Per trading updates for fourth quarter of 2021, ending December 31, 2021, total  subscriber base in South Africa grew from from 44.3 million a year ago to 45.8 million.

Of that figure, Vodacom remained well ahead of next-nearest rival MTN, with a commanding market share of 42%, against MTN’s 31%.

Telkom, though it has made significant market share gains in recent years, has a share of just 15% of the market by subscribers, while Cell C – which until last year was the third largest player – is now in fourth place with 12%.

MTN lead by ARPU

However, subscriber numbers and market share only tell a portion of the story. Another closely watched number – by investors, anyway – is the ARPU (average revenue per user) line.

Here, MTN is the winner, with a total ARPU of R98, ahead of Telkom with R92 and Vodacom with R91. Cell C didn’t disclose its blended ARPU in its most recent set of financial results – the six months to 30 June 2021 – and declined to provide the number when asked for it by TechCentral for this article.

Source: Company financial filings

Cell C did, however, disclose its contract (post-paid) and prepaid Arpu numbers, and these came in at R305 (the highest in the market) and R66 (the third lowest). Vodacom’s contract Arpu was second highest at R302, while Telkom’s was lowest at R217.

One caveat to note when looking at these numbers is that they don’t relate to the exact same reporting periods but rather show the most current data available from the operators (Vodacom being most current and Cell C least current). However, the figures do provide a reasonable basis for comparison.


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