For telco’s in Nigeria, 2021 remains a year of dropping numbers. The downward trend which started with the sim registration ban in December last year still lingers even after the ban has been lifted.
According to the recently-released stats by Nigerian Communications Communications (NCC), telcos in the country lost a total of 3.7 million subscribers in April after the ban was lifted.
In comparison, a total of 3.65 million subscribers were lost in March during the ban. This shows that the problem of continuous loss of subscribers by telcos goes farther, beyond the NCC ban.
This, however, leads to an impasse because telcos who are in the best position to reveal the cause of the dropping subscribers have pointed to the sim ban.
Both MTN and Airtel both highlighted the ban as the major cause of the falling numbers in their first-quarter report.
Figuring out other possible causes beyond the obvious is a toss of dice without insider information. Damilare, a tech analyst was of the opinion that the drop is in some way still tied to the SIM ban.
According to him, some subscribers could not retrieve their sims even with the ban being lifted. Damilare explained that the new requirements for buying and retrieving sims which include a valid National Identification Number is still a major hindrance for many.
A Twitter user, opined that it could be as a result of the unrest in the Northern and Southern part of the country. He explained that disruption of network connection in conflict zones among other logistical issues could have added to the drop.
David, a communications expert, on his part, felt that there is a probability that people with multiple sims are dumping them because of the new NIN-SIM linkage requirement.
While their reasonings are sound, there are, unfortunately, no certainties because there are no numbers to back them up. To give you a better understanding of how the current telecom space is, we have broken down the report.
Total number of subscribers drop below 190 million
With the losses reported, it is unsurprising that the total number of subscribers in the country dropped below 190 million during the month. However, it’s worthy of note that this is the first time since March 2020 that it has dropped this low.
According to the NCC, the total number of mobile subscribers are now 188.37 million, a 2% drop from the 192 million in April. Similarly, the number of internet subscribers also dropped from 144.58 million to 141.4 million during the month.
A breakdown shows that Globacom was the biggest loser of the month. It lost about 2.31 million subscribers and now has about 50.59 million subscribers in total.
MTN followed closely, losing about 1.1 million subscribers. However, its dominance as market leaders is unshaken, with its total number of subscribers pegged at 74.81 million.
Of all the telcos, 9mobile lost the least amount of subscribers. The company lost just 71,000 subscribers to fall to 12.77 million subscribers.
Airtel, on the other hand, lost about 207,000 subscribers to bring its total subscribers at end of the month to 50.17 million.
MTN remains king
In terms of internet subscribers, MTN was the biggest loser, shedding about 1.12 million subscribers. Despite that, is total for the month was still above 60 million.
Switching positions, Globacom follows this time with about 1 million lost internet subscribers. Its total for the month was 37.7 million subscribers still higher than Airtel’s 37.02 million after losing about 750 thousand subscribers in the month.
9mobile lost the least amount of subscribers, its numbers dropping just 195,000 to 6.22 million internet subscribers in April.
Nigeria’s broadband penetration is back to 40%
Broadband penetration in the country didn’t escape the effects that caused the drop in subscribers. The percentage penetration dropped to 40.66% after losing 0.52% in the month of April.
This is the first time broadband penetration has dropped since May 2020.
The number of 3G and 4G subscribers also dropped to 77.6 million from 78.61 million in the previous month.
The drop in telecom subscribers despite the lifting of the SIM ban in April shows that there are other underlying conditions. However, it is possible that if the SIM ban still persisted, the situation might have been worse.
On the other hand, the lack of porting data shows that telcos are still putting up the process to meet the NCC SIM registration and porting guidelines. This means that with time the number may rise organically.
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