Active subscriptions for mobile services across the four GSM networks in Nigeria declined by 15.4 million between December 2020 and March this year, TechTrackAfrica reports. According to the latest industry statistics released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), active subscriptions on MTN, Globacom, Airtel, and 9mobile stood at 192 million as of March-end, down from 207.5 million recorded in November 2020.
The unprecedented decline in the number of mobile users in the country came on the heels of the suspension of new SIM registration by the federal government. According to the government, the suspension, which took effect on December 9, 2020, was to allow a proper audit of the SIM registration database to ensure that all mobile lines in the country are properly registered. The ban was, however, lifted on April 19.
With the decline in mobile subscriptions, the country’s teledensity, which measures the number of active telephone connections per 100 inhabitants living within an area, also declined from 108.92 per cent in November 2020, to 100.80 per cent in January 2021.
According to the NCC’s industry data, all the operators recorded a decline in their subscriptions database in the four months of SIM suspension. The largest mobile operator in the country, MTN Nigeria, lost a total of 6 million subscriptions between December last year and March this year. This saw its database declined to 75.9 million from 82 million it had in November 2020. Airtel emerged as the biggest loser in the period as it lost a total of 6.8 million active subscriptions. This brought its total subscriptions to 50.3 million from 57.2 million it had in November last year. Globacom lost 2.9 million, which brought its subscription database to 52.9 million from 55 million it recorded in November. However, with the minimal loss compared to Airtel, Globacom was able to overtake Airtel as of March-end to become the second-largest operator in the country.
9mobile also slipped as it shed 337,676 subscriptions in the period under review. This brought its total subscriptions to 12.8 million from 13.2 million it recorded in November last year.