Internet Subscribers in Nigeria Increased by 22% in 2020 as MTN Got over 50% of New Mobile Subscribers

Biden promises better broadband access

2020 was a very good year for the telecom industry in Nigeria. Despite the pandemic, the industry experienced a major boom like its counterparts in the developed economies.

According to industry stats from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), over 19.8 million new subscribers were added in 2020 to bring the total number of mobile subscribers to 204.2 million. This is a 10.7% increase from last year’s numbers.

13. 25 million new mobile subscribers were added in 2019

MTN Contributed over 50% of the 19.8M Subscribers Added in 2020

This increase was particularly driven by the rise in demand for data and voice-related services at the wake of the lockdown imposed on major cities of Nigeria (Lagos, Abuja, Ogun).

MTN Contributed over 50% of the new mobile subscribers

MTN remains king with over 39.5% of the market. In 2020, the telecom giant added 12 million subscribers, more than 50% of the total number of new subscribers added in the country. The company now has over 80.76 million subscribers following a 17.4% increase year-on-year.

Airtel comes in second, adding 5.4 million new subscribers to widen the gap between itself and Globacom. Airtel now has a total mobile subscriber base of 55.64 million as against Globacoms 54.84 million.

MTN Contributed over 50% of the 19.8M Subscribers Added in 2020

Globacom added about 3.14 million new subscribers after rising by about 6.07% during the course of the year.

9mobile had a pretty bad year even though it showed signs of growth in some months during the course of the year. The telco generally fell into the negative side of things, losing over 659 thousand subscribers in 2020.

The last telco, Visafone which started the year with 138,144 subscribers has transferred its subscribers to the GSM band during the course of the year. This means there are no recorded subscribers for it.

Internet Subscribers increased by over 22%

The benefits of the increase in demand for mobile data was particularly felt in the country as the number of internet subscribers increased by over 20%.

“Nigerians have had to depend on the internet services to work from home (WFH), maintain social ties, access entertainment amongst others. Businesses have also relied on the services to sustain remote working.”

KPMG report

According to the NCC, the industry added about 28.14 million new internet subscribers in 2020. This brings the total number of internet subscribers in the country to 153.87 million.

Internet Subscribers in Nigeria Increased by 22% in 2020 as MTN Got over 50% of New Mobile Subscribers

Amongst the telcos, Globacom saw the highest growth in internet subscribers with 38.6%. The company added 11.17 million new subscribers to bring its total number of subscribers to 40.1 million.

However, in terms of numbers, MTN added the highest number of new subscribers 11.24 million during the course of the year. The telco now has a total of 65.35 million subscribers after rising by about 20.7% in 2020.

Airtel followed closely with a growth of 19.5% after adding 6.76 million new subscribers. The company now has 41.28 million subscribers but Globalcom is quickly closing the gap.

9mobile misfortune also affected its internet subscribers as the company lost about 948 thousand subscribers during the year.

9mobile wins the porting battle

Despite having a bad year, 9mobile was the most favourable network for porters in 2020. The telco recorded a total of 74,134 subscribers joining from other operators while only 28,372 subscribers left.

MTN Contributed over 50% of the 19.8M Subscribers Added in 2020

MTN comes in second with a total of 37,027 subscribers porting in and 35,881 porting out. This is a small albeit positive net porting record. Airtel follows with an almost identical number of subscribers who ported in and out during the course of the year.

Airtel recorded 67,927 porting in and 67,596 porting out in 2020

Globacom remains bottom of the log as the highest losers. The company recorded a total of 55,323 subscribers leaving the network while only 3,870 subscribers joined from other networks.

Broadband penetration rises by 7% in 2020

Broadband penetration in Nigeria is growing fast and very steadily. According to NCC stats, the number of mobile subscribers in the country has crossed the 200 million mark.

Broadband penetration in the country rose by 7.22% to stand at 45.02% at the end of 2020. This is a 0.9% increase from the 6.32 gained in 2019.

MTN Contributed over 50% of the 19.8M Subscribers Added in 2020

Similarly, The number of 3G and 4G subscribers also rose. The number of broadband subscription in the country finished the year at 85.94 million after adding 13.78 million subscribers during the year.

In Summary

The effects of COVID-19 pandemic caused a significant increase in telecommunications services in 2020. However, the growth was more profound in internet and data services.

Also, the telco ban on selling and registering sim cards reflected in the subscriber numbers in December but the major brunt of its effect would be felt in January.


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