In what appears to be good news, the number of active telecommunications subscribers services in Nigeria hit over 208 million in July, according to the data released by the country’s network regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
The figure, a little higher than the country’s estimated 200 million population, no doubt, raises hopes that both broadband and internet penetration is on the rise in the country.
In 2015, the number of active telecommunication users in Nigeria stood at 145 million. This means that in 7 years, over 62 million telco users have been recorded. Of course, Nigeria’s population increase is largely responsible for this.
A look at the subscribers’ numbers
According to the recent numbers, Nigeria witnessed a surge in the number of active lines from 206.45 million in June 2022 to 208.97 million in July 2022, causing the teledensity to jump from 108.15% to 109.47%.
For the uninitiated, teledensity represents the number of active telephone connections per one hundred (100) inhabitants living within an area and is expressed as a percentage figure.
Nigeria’s broadband usage also moved up from 40.9% in February 2022 to 44.5% in July 2022, just as the number of active subscribers for internet services jumped from 151,021,062 in June 2022 to 152,018,551 in July 2022.
MTN remains Nigeria’s telco king
It seems it will take a while before another telecommunication company unseats MTN as the dominant player in Nigeria.
According to the NCC figures, MTN as of July 2022 holds 38.08% of the market share, thanks to its 79,444,831 subscribers after the telco giant- also the largest operator by numbers- added 392.440 new subscribers in the month under review.
Globacom, on the other hand, controls 27.96%, though its subscribers fell from 12,659,356 in June 2022 to 12,595,516 in July 2022. Airtel’s market share is a little lower: 27.92%, with the company’s subscribers jumping from 58,143,494 in June 2022 to 58,234,449 in July 2022.
Lastly, 9mobile controls just 6.04% with a total of 12,595,516 in July 2022 — a reduction from the 12,659,356 recorded in June 2022.
In the internet market, MTN leads the pack with 63,751,924 subscribers, a figure expected to rise with the rollout of the 5G network by the South African-owned company. Trailing behind MTN is Airtel with 41,250,551 subscribers, followed by Globacom with 41,390,668 subscribers, while 9mobile has just 5,033,824 subscribers.
There are still challenges
While the increase in the number of telco subscribers might be a welcome development for the fast-growing telecommunications industry which contributed to the growth of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the first quarter of the year, there are still challenges.
The federal government had recently announced a controversial 5% excise duty on telecommunication services. The controversial move, however, was suspended after backlash from operators and stakeholders.
That the government pursued the policy, in the first place, raises serious questions about regulatory setbacks for the sector.
More so, the issue of poor internet connectivity is still very much around.
You will be hard-pressed to find a Nigerian living in Nigeria who hasn’t expressed bad internet or suffered an internet outage. It’s no surprise that Nigeria ranked 82nd in the world among 110 countries on the 2021 Digital Quality of Life Index.
A research report says that only 12.1 per cent of the Nigerian population currently enjoys quality internet services quality in the country at the moment. Unfortunately, the problem isn’t going away anytime soon.
Just in July, the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, disclosed that only 188 out of the 756 companies licensed as Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in Nigeria were active as of March 2022.
Other issues confronting the internet providers, highlighted by the NCC boss, include inadequate spectrum, the high price of bandwidth, the high cost of Right of Way, and the lack of good corporate governance practices in the companies.
At this juncture, one can only hope that the government and telcos reach a common ground to address these issues as soon as possible.
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