May 13, 2014 / 11:41 AM / 3 years ago

S.Africa's Cell C plans $222 mln capex, users rise to 16.6 mln

JOHANNESBURG, May 13 (Reuters) - South Africa's third-biggest mobile operator Cell C said on Tuesday it plans capital expenditure of 2.3 billion rand ($221.62 million) in 2014 to support an expanding subscriber base.

Users increased to 16.6 million at the end of April, a 22 percent rise from the end of 2013, it said in a statement.

The company, majority owned by Dubai-based Oger Telecom, has been chipping away at the market share of bigger players such as leader Vodacom and MTN.

MTN, which plays second fiddle to Vodacom in South Africa but is actually much bigger on the continent, saw its customers shrink 3.2 percent in the first quarter of 2014 to 24.875 million from the last three months of 2013.

Cell C said it would add more than 300 new sites, upgrade its network and deploy more fibre in cities.

"The idea behind the work we are doing with the equipment transfer is to bring more stability into the network, increase the coverage and provide the best quality we can to our customers," newly appointed chief executive Jose Dos Santos said.

Dos Santos took over at the helm last week from Alan Knott-Craig, who had been away since November because of illness.

$1 = 10.3782 South African Rand Reporting by Helen Nyambura-Mwaura, editing by David Evans

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