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Nigeria’s active mobile subscriptions rise above 200m

By Stanley Iwuoha

The explosion in the Nigerian telecom sector is not only reflective in the GDP growth but also in the active mobile subscription of the market.

This is proven in the latest report released by the industry regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC which shows that the active subscriptions for mobile telecommunications service in the country has increased to all time high of 203 million.

The increase reflected in the individual performance of the four major mobile networks operators, MTN, Globacom, Airtel, and 9mobile in the month of August this year.

According to the NCC, the latest figure shows an increase of 4.2 million from 198.9 million recorded in the previous month.
Meanwhile, the report shows that the country’s teledensity also increased to 106.62 per cent in the period under review.
Recall that teledensity of a country is measured by the number of active telephone connections per 100 inhabitants living within the country.
On the performance of telcos, MTN Nigeria recorded major gain, claiming the top spot as the largest mobile operator by the number of subscriptions in the country. For instance, in the month under review, MTN activated 2.7 million new lines, which brought its total active subscriptions to 83 million.
Next to MTN is Airtel, which the second highest subscription of 1.06 million also in August, making its total subscription 54.7 million in its database. The third place position is Globacom which activated 192, 327 new lines, bringing its total subscriptions to 52.9 million.
The latest entrant 9mobile, equally recorded about 214,282 new subscriptions in the month under review. This brought its total subscriptions to 12.3 million from 12.1 million it recorded in July.

In a related development, the monthly report further reveals that the total number of Nigerians connected to the internet across mobile, fixed wired and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) within the month in review also increased to 149.7 million.
The report pointed out that the telecommunications operators added 2.6 million new internet customers in the month.

The report further shows that while the data subscriptions had been on a steady increase in the last one year as the telcos aggressively push for the deployment of 4G infrastructure, the current COVID-19 pandemic has forced many Nigerians to depend heavily on the internet for several needs.

The mobile networks, MTN, Globacom, Airtel and 9mobile maintained their lead as the preferred choice of connectivity by many Nigerians as the mobile network operators accounted for 99.7 per cent of the internet subscriptions.
Meanwhile, mobile internet subscriptions as of August stood at 149.3 million, subscriptions over fixed wired and VoIP stood at 433,267.

A further look at the study revealed that MTN increased its subscription by 1.6 million new internet customers in the month. The telco, which had the largest subscriber both for voice and internet recorded a total of 63.8 million internet customers as of August this year.

In the same vein, Airtel again followed MTN in terms of internet customers as it added 738,462 new subscriptions, which brought its customer base to 39.7 million.

Globacom added 231,341 new internet subscriptions in the month, which brought the telco’s total internet customers to 38.5 million. Expectedly, 9mobile also took the rear position as it gained 32,621 internet subscriptions in the month to record a total of 7.1 million.

A major discovery in the report is that while data subscription currently plays second fiddle to voice in terms of revenue for the telcos, it is gradually becoming the main source of income as voice declines.
” MTN, for instance, in its Q1 2020 financial result disclosed that it recorded a sharp increase in data revenue, while voice revenue only increased marginally.”
From all indications, the telco’s data revenue jumped by 59.2 per cent to N74 billion in Q1 2020, while voice revenue only grew by 7.4 per cent in the same quarter.”

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