JOHANNESBURG Aug 7 South African wireless
carrier MTN Group reported a 9 percent rise in
first-half profit on Thursday, as strong demand for its
high-margin data services offset slow voice growth at home.
Africa's biggest mobile phone operator said diluted headline
earnings per share totalled 725 cents in the six month ended
June compared with 665 cents a year earlier.
Headline EPS is the primary profit measure in South Africa
that strips out certain one-off items.
MTN, which has operations in nearly two dozens countries in
Africa and the Middle East said sales increased 10 percent to
215 billion rand ($20.03 billion), helped by favourable currency
moves and a strong uptake of new users in its biggest market,
MTN and its closest domestic rival Vodacom are
struggling grow sales from voice calls at home as they slashed
tariffs to defend market share and after the regulator ordered
them to cut fees they charge one another to connect calls.
In response, both firms are rolling out high speed networks
to meet strong demand for data as customers increasingly use
their smartphones and tablets to browse the internet, stream
videos and download applications.
Data consumption is expected to be the driving force behind
the domestic mobile firms in the next few years. Earlier this
year, Cisco Systems Inc forecast South African mobile
data traffic growth will compound at 53 percent in five years to
($1 = 10.7318 South African rand)
(Reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng; Editing by Miral Fahmy)