Figures for the first quarter of trading have been released by Zain. Subscriber numbers have now reached 45 million in the Middle Eastern and African regions (15 million higher than at this time in 2007), with net profits up 10% to US$270 million.
Comments, understandably optimistic, have been issued by Zain's MD Dr Saad Al-Barrak: “On the back of excellent results for 2007, we are delighted that Zain continues its strong performance in the first quarter of 2008. We have experienced strong customer growth across all our operations in line with our 2011 targets of being a top ten global operator with over 110 million customers. Our impressive financial results underscore our achievements to date and we expect this trend to continue. Zain will build and add to the successes in recent years as we actively pursue expansion opportunities in the Middle East, Africa and beyond.”
Zain is keen to stress that its customer numbers are based on up-to-date information. A customer is defined as one who has been billed for a transaction within 90 days of 31 March 2008. For those seeking a more detailed breakdown of activity country by country, Zain includes a full list of the six Middle Eastern and 15 African countries in which it operates. Both regions show varied individual markets: Jordan's loss of 5% of its customers in the last 12 months is made up by Kuwait (+8.5%), Lebanon (+11.7%) Sudan (+25.1%) and by two massive leaps, Bahrain (+114.4%) and Iraq, the latter up by a massive 131.5%.
All in all, 52% more Zain subscribers exist in the Middle East compared to the beginning of 2007. Taking Africa, the swing of increase and decrease is as marked a is that of the Middle East. There is the solitary example of a market losing customers (Kenya, down 23.1% over last year) and there are the under-achievers (the two Congos, Gabon, Sierra Leone and Zambia) where under-achievers still means a rise in customers of anything between 26% and 46%... Those seeking more strenuous activity are referred to Madagascar, Malawi and Uganda. While the first two doubled their Zain customer base, the third saw subscribers rise by 180% in one year! It is clear where the catalysts lie for Africa's 55% rise in Zain clientele.