Nigeria’s Telecom Industry Gained 28 Million New Subscribers in 2018

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Nigeria’s telecom industry witnessed one of its biggest subscriber growths in 2018. According to December statistics released by industry regulator NCC, the telecom industry gained nearly 28 million new subscribers between December 2017 and December 2018. Total number of subscribers now stands at an incredible 172,871,094.

Nigeria's Telecom Industry Gained 28 Million New Subscribers in 2018

That’s a very impressive growth, even more so when you consider the statistics from 2017. After over a decade of consistent and impressive growth, 2017 saw the first decline ever in the industry, losing over 13 million year on year by December 2017. Total subscribers in 2017 stood at 145,059,514, compared to 154,529,780 recorded in 2016.

Importantly also, at the start of the year, the industry was in a pretty dicey position. The dual shocks caused by the MTN N1 trillion fine and the subsequent Etisalat exit from Nigeria brought a lot of speculation about the growth of the industry in 2018.

It’s reassuring for everyone to see such an impressive turnaround over such a short period. However, as usual, there was no explanation for the growth.

Moving on though, the December report also shows some notable growth among telecom networks. Importantly, 9Mobile, the sick man of the industry, posted its first subscriber growth since August 2016.

Back then the telco was still a reputable player, holding down third place with an enviable 22,599,670 subscribers. But it has since fallen to just 15,917,015 subscribers. Yet it is a slight improvement from 15,361,571 stagnant figure it held in October and November 2018.

Meanwhile, MTN continues to claim the upper hand in the industry with 67,133,009 subscribers accounting for 38.92% of telecom customers in the country. Glo comes a distant second with 45,255,297 subscribers accounting for 26.24%. And Airtel is third but closely behind with 25.61%, representing 44,180,484 subscribers.

Similarly, internet subscribers have continued to grow and in December, they now stand at 111.6 million, up from 108.5 million in November 2018.


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