Irancell, MTN’s subsidiary in the Islamic Republic, had more than 9 million customers at the end of March, little more than 15 months after it launched its mobile phone services.

The MTN subsidiary has more than 20 per cent of the Iranian mobile phone market.

Its only rival, the state-owned Telecommunications Company of Iran, claimed to have more than 21 million customers at the end of December in 2007, although its numbers are not audited.

MTN Sudan had 2.4 million customers, MTN Syria had 3.2 million, and MTN Yemen had 1.6 million at the end of March.