MTN Group loses Nigeria customers to Etisalat

African operator MTN Group has lost a number of high-end users in its largest market, Nigeria, to rival player Etisalat, local reports claim.

Poor network quality in the capital of Abuja and its surrounding areas, as well as the commercial hub Lagos, has allegedly pushed many of its wealthier customers to move to Etisalat.

“The key issue for us has been to improve the data quality and speeds,” Sifiso Dabengwa, MTN Group’s chief executive, told reporters.

“Clearly, Etisalat’s network, from a data point of view, has been better than ours.”

MTN Group noted a 10% decrease in its first-half earnings for 2015, and the operator has said it will spend 19 billion rand ($1.5 billion) to expand and upgrade its networks in Nigeria and South Africa for the remainder of the year.

“We expect the balance of the year to remain challenging for MTN Nigeria,” the company said in its H1 revenue statement.

In April this year, MTN was reported to be in talks over an acquisition of Visafone Communications in Nigeria, in a bid to expand its operations in the country.