The year 2019 was a good year for Nigerian telcos – at least most of them. With mouth watering offers and promos for their subscribers, the battle for supremacy among the them was pretty intense as the NCC stats reveal.
And the freshly released Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) industry statistics gives an insight into what happened in the telecommunications space in 2019.
According to the NCC stats, as at December 2019 the number of GSM internet subscribers stood at 125,728,328 million. This indicates an 11.2% increase (14,095,812 subscribers) from the internet subscribers recorded by December 2018, 111,632,516.
This is an impressive growth rate, and it shows that the rapid spread of 4G technology in the country is paying off.
MTN continued its dominance in 2019 coming out as the biggest gainer of the year with 10.2 million internet subscribers in 12 months. It now has a total of 54 million subscribers.
Other telcos also did well. Airtel gained about 5 million subscribers to leave 2019 with a total of 34.5 million subscribers. Globacom gained the least with just 879,491 subscribers in 2019, making up a total of 28.9 million. Visafone also increased its figures to 90,174 subscribers in 2019.
Of the group, 9mobile was the only telco to record a loss of subscribers. The ailing telco, which has been losing subscribers since 2015, continued its trend losing 1.8 million subscribers in the space of 12 months.
This causes one to ask the now familiar question, what is happening with 9mobile?
Other months like April, May and December saw a significant increase in internet subscribers, with all having an increase of over 3 million subscribers each.
The growth in December could be associated with the the festivities and holidays. This saw many people come into the country and need to purchase sims for internet activities.
The NCC stats also shows that there are 184 million telephone subscribers in Nigeria, about 6.4% (11.8 million subscribers) increase from the figure recorded in December 2018.
This number doesn’t necessarily mean that there are 184 million Nigerians that have sims, since one person can own more than 1 sim.
Asides figures, there was no displacement in positions among the Nigerian telcos. MTN still remains the top choice with 68.7 million users (37.28%). Globacom comes next with 51.7 million users (28.03%), while Airtel folllowed closely with 50.1 million users (27.21%).
9mobile comes in 4th place with 13.1 million users (7.40%), and Visafone with 134,518 users(0.07%).
Broadband Penetration on the Rise
According to the NCC stats, the number of users on the 4G broadband increased in 2019. As at December, Nigeria had 72,153,824, users on the broadband network at 37.80%.
This is an increase from the 60,087,199 users recorded in 2018. The current figure is also more than half its target (65%) for 2024.
Also in 2019, there was a total of 139,022 incoming porting activities amongst the networks, with 9mobile being the king of the space.
This was greater than the value for outgoing porting activities in the same period, which was 121,154. Airtel and Globacom was the highest losers.
Moving ahead in 2020, Nigerian telcos and all the necessary players will need to increase broadband penetration to a significant level, so as to aid the introduction of 5G technology. Also, it is important that Nigerian telcos see more reasons to provide better value for their customers to keep them on their network.