MTN Group wants to exit Afghanistan by the end of next month, a move that’s been coming for some time, with Guinea-Bissau, Guinea-Conakry and Liberia likely next in line to go.
“The process to exit Afghanistan is in the regulatory approval stages and remains on track to be finalised by year-end,” the telecommunications group said in its quarterly update for the period ending 30 September, released on Tuesday.
Last August, it emerged that MTN had received a US$35-million binding offer for the Afghanistan business.
Group CEO Ralph Mupita told journalists on a news call at the time that the completion of the transaction would conclude the exit of the Middle East markets, while its 49% financial investment in Irancell would continue to be managed within the MTN portfolio.
Exits from other, smaller markets on the African continent may soon to follow.
The pan-African mobile operator, which currently has a presence in 19 countries on the continent and the Middle East, said that discussions are also ongoing regarding the potential “orderly exit” of its operations in Guinea-Bissau, Guinea-Conakry and Liberia.
These changes will reduce the tally to five operating countries in the group’s West and Central Africa (Weca) segment of its portfolio.
The Weca region is mainly driven by key markets of Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and Cameroon (Nigeria is excluded because of its significant size).
The group has faced numerous challenges in the region, and as at the end of the 2022 financial year, Ebitda margin declined by 1.7 percentage points year on year to 33.1% due to pricing pressures, fintech channel subsidies and macroeconomic challenges, including local currency devaluations and higher inflation.