Brand Finance, an independent brand valuation consultancy firm, has for the first time ranked Africa’s top 150 most valuable and strongest brands. South Africa’s Telecommunication giant, Mobile Telephone Network (MTN) took the number one spot as Africa’s most valuable brand (MVB) with a brand value of US3.3 billion despite recording a 1% loss in brand value.
With a dominant presence across 23 countries and a subscriber growth of over 250 million, it is without question that MTN has emerged as Africa’s most valuable brand. Brand Finance came up with its Telecoms 150 report, earlier in the year in which MTN took the number one spot as the leading telecommunication brand in Africa.
“MTN is to be commended for its performance in its home market as well as further afield. They are increasingly recognized throughout Africa by their customers as providing high-quality service because their brand image is deeply rooted in more than just marketing campaigns.”David Haigh, Brand Finance CEO
MTN’s Dominance and Controversy
According to MTN’s 2019 five-year review document published in April, out of the 21 countries where it operates mobile networks in Africa and the Middle East, it has the biggest market share in 13 countries. This impressive feat hasn’t come without scrutiny and cost. In Ghana, for instance, the National Communications Authority (NCA) took cognizance of MTN Ghana’s dominance in the country and sought to control said dominance. MTN Ghana is said to currently control close to 70% of the country’s data subscriptions market share and just under 60% of voice. MTN Ghana also owns the leading mobile money platform by far, outstripping other telecommunication brands like Vodafone and AirtelTigo and even banks.
In 2017, MTN faced an $8.5 million fine by Rwanda’s regulatory authority for hosting its IT services outside the country, (reportedly in Uganda), which Rwanda believed compromised its national security. Also in Uganda last year, three of MTN’s top executives were deported on January 19, 21 and 22 by authorities sighting “involvement in activities that comprise state security.” In 2018, MTN settled a long-running dispute which it had with the Central Bank of Nigeria over tax and dividend payouts totalling $8.1 billion.
Despite the controversies and suits, MTN continues to exact its dominance and continues to grow in strength.
With instant messaging services or online chat provided by apps like WhatsApp, MTN faces huge competition as such apps offer comparable data services below-market rates. Jeremy Simpson, Managing Director at Brand Finance is however of the view that COVID-19 offers a major opportunity for telecommunication brands such as MTN to increase growth as demand surges due to a lot more people working for home and spending time on their computers, and smartphones.