The Nigerian arm of Africa's biggest mobile phone operator, MTN has the largest share of the country's market. Even as Etisalat Nigeria continues to lure customers away from its fellow operators, MTN still had a 44 per cent share of subscriptions in the fourth quarter of last year. Nigeria is the biggest market for the South African operator. The company plans to spend US$1 billion (Dh367.29bn) in Nigeria this year to meet regulatory demands to improve service.
Part of Globacom, Glo is the second-biggest operator in Nigeria, with about 21 million subscribers. Owned by the billionaire tycoon Mike Adenuga, Globacom also operates in the Benin and has acquired licences to operate in Ghana and the Ivory Coast. Glo Mobile is one of the most established operators in the Nigerian market, having launched in August 2003. This month, the company rolled out 110,000 toll-free lines to help the country's police force fight instability.
The Indian telecommunications giant has a foothold in 20 countries across South Asia, Africa and the Channel Islands. At the end of last year, Airtel had a 19 per cent share of the Nigerian market, putting it behind MTN and Glo Mobile in terms of subscriber numbers. It started operations in Nigeria in 2010 after a $9bn acquisition of Zain's Africa operations, including 65 per cent of Zain Nigeria. Airtel is the fifth-largest telecoms operator in the world, with Nigeria contributing about 9.5 per cent to the company's global consolidated profits.
The company is catching up quickly with its bigger rivals. In less than four years, Etisalat Nigeria has managed to capture a 10 per cent share of the market. It aims to add another 20 per cent of mobile subscribers by the end of the year as it targets becoming the country's second-biggest telecoms operator by 2016. The company is 40 per cent owned by Etisalat and 30 per cent by Mubadala Development, a strategic investment company owned by the Abu Dhabi Government. The other 30 per cent is held by a group of Nigerian shareholders.