The Nigerian telecommunication landscape witnessed a significant decline in the number of internet subscribers in January 2021 after losing a total of 2.98 million subscribers in a single month.
This is according to information obtained from the website of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
A cursory look at the data shows that the number of internet subscribers reduced by 1.93% from 153.87 million recorded as of December 2020, to 150.89 million as at the end of January 2021.
Similarly, the number of mobile subscribers for the four major players in the industry reduced by 4.36 million subscribers in the month under review.
Although the reason for the decline is not known, it could be attributed to the suspension of registration of new lines as the Nigerian government continues the NIIN-Sim registration nationwide. A development, which has caused many users to queue at various NIMC offices in order to obtain their National Identification Number (NIN) before they make use of their lines.
Checks by Nairalytics showed that internet subscribers began to fall in December 2020 when the NCC ordered the suspension of new sim card registration, falling from 154.44 million subscribers in November 2020 to 153.87 million subscribers in December 2020 and subsequently 150.89 million internet subscribers at the end of January 2021.
Notably, all the telecommunication networks recorded a decline in the number of internet and mobile subscribers in January 2021.
Internet market share
- MTN Nigeria leads with a total market share of 42.41%, boasting 63.99 million internet subscribers as of January 2021. It however lost a total of 1.37 million subscribers in the reviewed month, from 65.36 million recorded in the previous month.
- Airtel follows with a market share of 26.53%. The telco giant recorded a total of 40.03 million internet subscribers in January, 1.25 million subscribers short of 41.29 million recorded in the previous month.
- Globacom follows closely with a market share of 26.52%. The indigenous telco firm has a total internet subscriber base of 39.99 million as of January 2021. It also recorded a decline in customers from 40.11 million recorded as of December 2020.
- Meanwhile, 9mobile with 6.88 million internet subscribers as of January 2021, boasts of a market share of 4.56%.
- In total, 2.9 million subscribers were lost between December and January 2021, the highest single month loss recorded in recent years.
Why the drop?
The NCC did not provide a formal explanation for the drop in internet subscribers however Nairametrics believes this could be due to the National Identity Card Scheme currently being implemented as well as the SIM Card registration requirements.
Abandoned phone lines are being yanked off the database of GSM companies in compliance with regulatory requirements. For example, the total number of GSM subscribers for the month of January fell to 199.8 million from 204.1 million or about 4.3 million lost subscribers.
2020 in rear view
It is worth noting that the Nigerian telecommunication sector recorded tremendous gains in 2020, on account of the pandemic-induced lockdown, which forced many organizations in Nigeria to adopt remote working.
- According to the NCC, Nigeria’s internet subscribers increased by a total of 28.15 million in 2020, MTN gaining the most (11.25 million), closely followed by Glo with 11.17 million new subscribers, and Airtel with 6.77 million subscribers, while 9mobile lost 948,087 subscribers within the year.
- A quick look at the 2020 full-year financial statement of MTN Nigeria showed that the telco giant expanded its revenue by 15.1% year-on-year to N1.3 trillion, largely driven by growth recorded in its data segment of the business.
- Apparently, while so many companies were lamenting the impact of the covid 19 on their business, the Telecomms businesses were just smiling to the bank