Despite NIN challenges, SIM ban, Nigeria adds 4m new mobile users in Q1, 2022

Eberechukwu Etike
…subscribers in Nigeria rose to 199,558,540 in March 2022, up from 195,463,898 in December 2021.
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According to the Nigerian Communications Commission‘s recent industry statistics report, Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in the country acquired a total of 4,094,642, (4.1m) new mobile phone subscribers in the first quarter of 2022 (January to March 2022).

According to the report, active telephony subscriptions in Nigeria rose to 199,558,540 in March 2022, up from 195,463,898 in December 2021. This was at a time when agencies such as the Nigerian Immigration Service, telcos and banks are affected by this downtime as it makes it impossible to verify the National Identity Number (NIN) of their customers before attending to them, in line with the Federal Government’s directive.

As a result, a huge number of mobile telecommunications subscribers across the country who have been seeking to retrieve their lost Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards or acquire new lines have been unable to do so.

NIMC provided a tokenisation alternative, the virtual NIN platform (vNIN) which was to serve as an option for citizens to use when digitally verifying their identity with an agent or enterprise. The Federal government introduced digital tokens as a replacement for the NIN slip in a bid to ensure the privacy of users’ personal information and to reduce incidences of illegal retrieval, usage, transfer, and storage of NIN.

In spite of this, 1,435,109 subscribers were onboarded in March 2022 alone i.e. Between January 2022 and February 2022, MNOs gained 2,059,512 active subscribers overall.

Active telephony Subscriptions in Nigeria for Q1 of 2022- NCC
Active telephony Subscriptions in Nigeria for the Q1 of 2022- NCC

Teledensity also increased, from 102.40% in December 2021 to 104.54% in March 2022. The number of active telephone connections per hundred individuals in a certain area is referred to as teledensity.

The Nigerian teledensity utilized in this report corresponds to the current population of 190 million people as reported by the National Population Commission (NPC). The NPC in 2006 has a report of 140 million people which was later recalculated to the current figure in 2019 by the NCC.

Read also: How NCC, FIRS want to boost revenue contribution from the telecoms sector

Market shares among the Mobile Network Operators

MTN has maintained its position as Nigeria’s biggest telecom service provider, with 74,933,684 subscribers and a GSM market share of 37.89 per cent, according to this research.

In 2021, the firm announced that it has covered 80.4 per cent of its 3G population and 60.1 per cent of its 4G population in Nigeria, respectively. The corporation reported 1.7 million new members in its first-quarter report.

GSM market Share in Nigeria in Q1 of 2022 - NCC
GSM market Share in Nigeria in Q1 of 2022 – NCC

Airtel is second with 55,004,561 subscribers and a 27.81 % market share. Globacom came in third place with 54,987,328 customers and a market share of 27.80%, while 9mobile came in fourth place with 12,842,909 members and a market share of 6.49 %.

The report also indicates that the majority of the active internet subscribers were GSM-based subscribers (3,585,405).

Porting activities among subscribers

The NCC report also analyzed the MNOs porting data from the first quarter of 2022. According to the data, Airtel, 9mobile, Globacom, and MTN each lost 10,051, 3,899, 543, and 824 subscribers due to porting by subscribers.

According to the data, MTN, Airtel, Globacom, and 9mobile each gained 7,364, 1,895, 543, and 555 subscribers due to incoming porting.

Read also: NCC dismisses plan by telecoms companies to increase call, data tariffs by 40%

Why this matters

The NCC revealed that since the initial restriction in 2020, telcos have lost over 15.5 million customers. Customers were able to register their sim cards after the prohibition was lifted. The prohibition was re-enforced in April 2022, and over 72.77 million users were banned from making outgoing calls since they had not completed the NIN-SIM connection process.

What is clear is that despite the NIN-SIM connectivity issues that have once been a trend in Nigeria, the Mobile Network Operators sector has seen significant growth, particularly in Q1 of 2022.

These MNOs have remained committed to expanding their businesses while attempting to recover from the losses incurred as a result of the Federal Government’s regulatory ban on sim cards and activation in 2021.

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