Etisalat Nigeria captures untapped mobile market

Etisalat Nigeria is evading the current mobile price war in Nigeria by embracing new innovative ideas in a bid to capture market share from its competitors.

Etisalat Nigeria is focusing on innovative ideas to capture Nigeria's mobile market (image source: file photo)

That’s according to John Murray, Etisalat Nigeria Chief Information Officer (CIO).

Etisalat Nigeria is currently competing with other mobile operators including MTN Nigeria, Airtel Nigeria and Glo.

“The market is still growing. Customer demographics are difficult to measure because the average revenue spend is low. The operating costs to do business in Nigeria are high due to the weak or non-existent infrastructure,” said Murray.

“As a new entrant into the mobile market, we’re competing against companies that have been in the market for about 8 to 10 years longer than us,” said Murray.

“We’ve had to be real innovative and creative on how we bring something new into the market. We really don’t want to compete on price considering that the prices are already too low. We compete on innovation and service quality.

Nigeria’s mobile market

“Etisalat is a late entrant in the Nigerian mobile market and currently ranks in the 4th position with about 10 million mobile subscribers,” said Murray.

Murray said Etisalat Group operates in Africa, Middle East and Asia. The company is broken into 3 ‘clusters’. The African cluster includes Nigeria, Sudan, Tanzania, plus a cluster of 7 West African French speaking countries like Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger, Mali, Benin and Togo.

“Nigeria is definitely the biggest African mobile operation for Etisalat,” said Murray.

How can business people be successful in Africa’s mobile market?

“You need 3 key components to be successful in the African marketplace. You need a shareholder component, you need strategic partnerships with very capable providers and you need to be able to energise the indigenous people,” said Murray.

“The Nigerians need to feel that they’re part of the success and feel that it’s also their business,”said Murray.

“Nigeria is not an easy market, it’s a very high risk market,” confirms Murray.

What are your personal sentiments regarding Asian companies that are investing aggressively across the African continent?

That’s a great question. I have a lot of respect for the Chinese people that have come into Africa. The reason I respect them is they’re putting large capital at risk. When the Chinese come in, they work directly with the average African.

You find them on the streets, eating, conducting business and shopping with the average African. Most expats tend to live in a bubble, separated from the African experience. The Chinese are integrated into the Nigerian communities.

Africa is fascinating; it’s really the cutting edge business industry. There’s enthusiasm and the willingness to take a risk and try new things. The rate at which adaptation is coming is so quick, you just see things change on a month to month basis,” concludes Murray.

Bontle Moeng


  1. Does Mr Murray also tell you the amount of money the Chinese pay to " buy the business" ?? The Chinese are all over Nigeria not because they are any smarter than the rest- its because they are masters at delivering " brown envelopes to the weak so called Management.

    • Greetings Peter,

      Appreciate your comment. The Chinese are doing what every other foreign "investor" has done here, since they arrived here to start hauling Africans around the world. Are they better or worse? Dunno. Are all Chinese business people greasy – doubt it. Is every one in management here in Nigeria greasy – no.

      I describe Nigeria as a global frontier town. A lot of global cowboys rustling around for deals. Not very many sheriffs to control them. And many of the one's that are here, are not pretty much the same as the cowboys.

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