The drop, thus, represents a loss of about N3.1bn potential revenue for Etisalat for the quarter, going by the industry’s average revenue of N1,830 per user, according to the quarterly subscriber operation data obtained from the Nigerian Communications Commission.
Similarly, in the first quarter of this year, the telco lost 1.2 million subscribers. This is also estimated to cost the telecoms company potential revenue of about N3.8bn.
Insiders revealed that the poor network investment, occasioned by $1.2bn debt to eight Nigerian banks, was adversely affecting the company’s ability to deliver quality service and impeding its expansion.
“As such, we are beginning to see an exodus of subscribers from Etisalat network to rival networks, most especially now that subscribers have options through the Mobile Number Portability.”
Etisalat, apart from owing eight local banks, it was also discovered that the company owed tower firm, IHS Nigeria. This was made known by the IHS, which said that it had experienced instability in terms of timing of settlement of invoices with certain customers including Etisalat.
In 2014, the World Bank lent $200m to the London-based African tower manager, IHS, for the acquisition of about 2,100 tower sites from Etisalat Nigeria. Under this Master Lease Agreement, Etisalat sold its tower assets to the IHS, while the IHS leased it back in exchange for lease rentals.
The IHS also has an $800m bond, which is partly securitised from the cash flows of the Etisalat lease. Fitch Rating has said the IHS might experience delays in collecting payments from Etisalat Nigeria over the short term, but medium-term prospects should remain broadly intact.
A source revealed that: “Should Etisalat Nigeria go into bankruptcy proceedings, we believe its creditors will want to maximise recovery prospects by continuing normal mobile network operations, which include payments to the IHS for use of its tower infrastructure.”