South Africa’s third-biggest mobile operator Cell C, which is 60% owned by Dubai-based Oger Telecom of Saudi Oger group, will spend $221.62m in 2014 to facilitate the expansion of its subscription base through the upgrade of its network and the addition of 300 sites.

The relative newcomer to the market has been steadily stealing share from the bigger players such as leader Vodacom and MTN, and according to a statement its users increased to 16.6 million at the end of April, which represents a 22% rise from the end of 2013.

South Africa’s MTN, which is the largest mobile provider on the continent, though only the second within South Africa itself after Vodafone, saw its customers shrink by 3.2% in the first quarter to 24.875 million compared with the fourth quarter last year.

“The idea behind the work we are doing with the equipment transfer is to bring more stability into the network, increase the coverage and provide the best quality we can to our customers,” the newly appointed CEO Jose Dos Santos explained to Reuters.

Cell C is also the first cellular provider operating a dual band GSM 900/1800 MHz data network, and has recently shaken up the South African market by introducing a flat network call-rate and the lowest data rate in a significant challenge to the high-margin big operators.