As the MTN Group departure from Afghanistan gets closer, it seems Guinea-Bissau, Guinea-Conakry and Liberia are next in line for an MTN exit.
In fact, according to a number of reports the pan-African operator hopes to be out of Afghanistan by the end of December. It says in its quarterly update for the period ending 30 September that the process to exit Afghanistan is in the regulatory approval stages and remains on track to be finalised by the end of this year.
This departure has been a long time coming. In November 2022 we reported that MTN Group had named Lebanon’s M1 New Ventures as the buyer of its Afghan unit and had apparently received a US$35-million binding offer for the Afghanistan business.
The pan-African operator has also indicated that discussions are continuing regarding the potential “orderly exit” of its operations in Guinea-Bissau, Guinea-Conakry and Liberia.
This again has been ongoing for a while. In May this year we reported that MTN was in advanced talks to sell its operator units in Liberia, Guinea-Bissau and Guinea-Conakry to Axian Telecom, as it continued to optimise and focus on core markets.
These exits, if they go ahead, won’t be a major surprise. Ecofin reports that MTN faces numerous challenges across the West and Central Africa region including inflation and currency devaluation across several markets.
In any case these three countries aren’t heavy hitters for MTN, contributing a mere 1.6% to MTN’s revenue in 2022. MTN at the moment is a distant second in Guinea-Bissau and Guinea-Conakry to Orange, which controls over 60% of the market share in both countries. Similarly in Liberia, Lonestar MTN is behind Orange Liberia, which controls over 50% of its market.