Nigeria’s telcos gained 28m mobile subscribers

.As internet users hit 111m

Mobile network operators in Nigeria added 27.8 million new subscribers in 2018 to bring the total active mobile subscriptions to 172.4 million. This represented 19 per cent growth compared to 144.6 million recorded at the end of 2017.

Latest industry statistics released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) showed that the four GSM operators, MTN, Globacom, Airtel and 9mobile continued their dominance of the telecommunications market with 99.7 per cent market share, leaving other players that are using other technologies with 0.3 per cent share.

According to NCC, MTN remained the largest network operator with 67.1 million subscriptions thereby controlling 39 per cent of the market share as at December 2018. Globacom and Airtel came second and third with 45.2 million and 44.1 million subscriptions respectively, while their market share stood at 25 per cent each. 9mobile remained the distant fourth operator with 15.9 million subscriptions and 9 per cent market share.

Expectedly with the rise in subscriptions, the country’s teledensity also rose from 103.61 per cent in 2017 to 123.48 per cent at the close of 2018. Teledensity is the number of telephone connections for every 100 individuals living within an area and it varies widely across the country.

Meanwhile, Internet subscriptions on the four GSM networks also surged to an all-time high of 111.6 million in December 2018. Internet subscriptions on the networks crossed 100 million for the first time in January last year and had been on the rise since then.

The growth in data uptake is being pushed by all the telecoms operators who have since embarked on upgrade of their networks to enhance data experience with 4G technology. The operators have also been dishing out a number of data offerings to the consumers as revenue from voice service is believed to have been saturated, leaving data as the main source of revenue.

Analysis of the 2018 internet figures showed that MTN gained 7.8 million internet subscribers in the year to bring its total internet customers to 43.9 million. In the same vein, Airtel added 5.8 million users in the year, which brought its total internet subscriptions to 29.7 million. Globacom also recorded additional 1.05 million customers to record 28 million internet subscriptions. However, 9mobile lost 1.4 million internet subscribers in the year, which brought its total subscriptions to 9.9 million from 11.3 million in 2017. The company’s loss of subscribers may not be unconnected with the air of uncertainties of its sale, which was later resolved towards the end of the year.

While telecoms subscriptions in the country have continued to grow over the years, industry watchers more efforts to get more Nigerians connected. Indeed, against the backdrop of a recent report by Research ICT Africa (RIA), which established that 51 percent of mobile subscribers in the country own more than one SIM card, many Nigerians are yet to have access to mobile communications despite the rising figures of subscriptions. The report, which is a product of a general survey conducted in the country in 2017, suggests that mobile penetration is still low in Nigeria contrary to the general belief of over 100 per cent penetration. RIA declared specifically that 42 per cent of mobile users in Nigeria own two SIMs, while six per cent own three SIMs. Three per cent of mobile users in Nigeria own more than three SIMs according to the survey, while only 49 per cent own one SIM.

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