MTN gains most customers as mobile subscriptions in Nigeria hit a record 222.5 million in 2022

Ganiu Oloruntade
Mobile subscriptions in Nigeria
How mobile subscriptions in Nigeria hit a record 222.5 million last year

MTN Nigeria recorded more than 15 million new customers as the rising rate of active mobile subscriptions in Nigeria hit a new milestone in 2022, reaching an all-time high of 222 million.

According to the recently released industry statistics from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), active subscriptions for telecommunications services in the country — which boasts of Africa’s largest mobile population — stood at 222.5 million as of December 2022, a 14% jump from 195,4 million recorded in December 2021.

Teledensity – the number of active telephone connections per hundred individuals in a particular area – also jumped from 102.40% in December 2021 to a record high of 116.60% in December 2022. According to the NCC, from March 2019, teledensity is calculated based on a population estimate of 190 million, up from 140 million.

Active mobile subscriptions in Nigeria. Image Source: NCC.

Growth amid NIN-SIM linkage troubles

The impressive growth in active mobile subscriptions in Nigeria came on the heels of the initial setbacks caused by the National Identification Number (NIN) – Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) linkage policy introduced by the Federal Government last April. In line with the policy, mobile operators barred over 72.77 million active telephone lines from making calls over failure to link their NINs to their SIM cards. This, of course, came after a series of extensions of the implementation deadline.

Interestingly, not only Nigerians felt the heat of the policy. The telecoms industry had its fair share of troubles too. The NCC said 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.

According to recent data from the National Identity Management Commission — the agency in charge of enrolment and issuance of NINs, the number of registered Nigerians grew to 92.63 million in November 2022. Of this figure, 19.93 million Nigerians got their NINs last year.

Read also: Mobile subscriptions on the rise.

MTN leads the pack as usual

A look at the latest numbers from the NCC shows that MTN Nigeria has continued to give the other mobile networks a run for their money, snagging 15.4 million new subscribers in 2022 to lead the pack as usual. The company also ramped up its customer base to 89.02 million as of last December, a 20.96 % jump from the 73.5 million it recorded in December 2021. MTN also holds the largest market share of the Nigerian telco market, with 40.06%.

Market share by operators. Image Source: NCC.

Holding the spot as the second-largest operator is Glo, with 5.3 million new subscribers, which grew its subscriber base by 9.98% from 54.82 million as of December 2021 to 60.29 million in December 2022. The company also holds 27.13% of the market share.

Trailing behind is Airtel, which gained 6.1 million new subscribers in the year under review to bring its total customer base to 60.07 million, representing an 11.38 per cent jump from the 53.93 million reported as of December 2021. The company holds 27.03% of the market share.

On the other hand, 9mobile — with a 5.78% market share — recorded a tiny growth of 0.49% in its subscriber base, gaining just 63,000 subscribers to grow from 12.85 million as of December 2021 to 12.79 million in December 2022.

Mobile headed towards boom

In its Mobile Economy Sub-Saharan Africa 2022 report, GSMA, an umbrella organization representing mobile operators globally, predicted a massive boom for the mobile market in Africa. For context, mobile technologies and services added almost $140bn to Africa’s economy in 2021.

“By 2025, mobile’s contribution will grow by $65bn (to almost $155bn), as the countries in the region increasingly benefit from the improvements in productivity and efficiency brought about by the increased take-up of mobile services,” GSMA said in the report.

The report adds that Africa will add nearly 100 million new subscribers by 2025, bringing the total number of subscribers to 613 million – almost half of the region’s population. Nigeria, for one — being the most prominent mobile market on the continent — will gain 18 million new subscribers by that time.

Read also: Africa’s mobile economy is headed towards boom in the next three years.


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