From a peak point of 45.93 per cent in October 2020, broadband penetration in Nigeria slipped to 40.66 per cent in April this year. This came amidst the implementation of a National Broadband Plan where the country hopes to achieve 70 per cent penetration in the next four years.
According to the latest industry data released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) subscriptions for high-speed internet in the country plunged to 77.6 million from 78.6 million recorded in March. This showed that the network operators lost one million broadband customers within the month.
An analysis of the NCC’s data showed that the country had been recording a consistent decrease in the number of broadband users since November 2020. According to the data, the service providers had lost a total of 10 million broadband subscribers between November 2020 and April 2021.
In November 2020, broadband penetration had declined by 1.6 million, breaking 10 months of consistent monthly growth. By December, it went down further as the number of broadband subscriptions stood at 85.9 million, compared with 86 million in the preceding month while the penetration level went down to 45.02 per cent from 45.07 per cent recorded in the preceding month.
January 2021 saw the number of broadband users in the country declined by four million from 85.9 million in December to 81.9, which brought the penetration level to 42.93. And in February it went further down again to 79.9 million users, and by March it had reduced to 78.6 million.
Between January and October 2020, broadband connectivity in the country had increased by 15.5 million. On average, the country had been recording a one per cent increase each month, as the mobile network operators continued to push for deployment of 4G service across the country.
However, industry analysts are blaming the consistent decline in the last six months on the suspension of SIM sales. According to them, many subscribers were not been able to replace or swap their damaged or missing SIMs since the ban on SIM registration or activation, which took effect on December 9, 2020.
With the lifting of the suspension on April 19, experts said the country would have to fast-track the implementation of the NBP 2020-2025 and remove obstacles to the fast deployment of infrastructure to recover the lost grounds.
The suspension of SIM sales has also affected the country’s overall active mobile subscriptions negatively. According to NCC’s data, active subscriptions across the four GSM networks of MTN, Globacom, Airtel, and 9mobile declined to 188.3 million from 192 million recorded in March. This brought the total loss of mobile connections between December 2020 and April 2021 to 19.2 million.
With the steep decline in the number of active mobile connections, the country’s teledensity, which measures the number of active telephone connections per 100 inhabitants living within an area, also declined from 100.80 per cent in March 2021, to 98.86 per cent in April. In November 2020, Nigeria’s teledensity stood at 108.92 per cent.