MTN loses over 1m subscribers as Nigeria’s broadband penetration drops by 0.28%

Godfrey Elimian
MTN explains the 'network freeze' scheduled to hold during the 2023 elections
MTN Nigeria CEO, Karl Toriola

As per the recent figures released by the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), Nigeria’s broadband penetration dropped by 0.28%, which might not be unconnected with the loss of over 1 million active subscribers by Nigeria’s leading telco operator, MTN.

The reduction in MTN’s active subscriptions is attributable to the disconnection of SIMs that have not been linked with the National Identification Number (NIN) as mandated by the government.

Subsequently, the subscriptions for mobile services in Nigeria declined by 0.4% to 225.8 million in March 2023, against 226.8 million that it was in February. Despite MTN’s loss, other telcos – Glo, Airtel, and 9Mobile, recorded a marginal increase in their subscriptions in the month under review.

Nigeria’s broadband penetration concern

Nigeria has not recorded a major milestone in its attempt at increasing its broadband penetration and having the majority of Nigeria’s covered, this year. The figures for the first quarter of the year continuously face the huddle of scaling through 48% that it has been since January.

Nigeria's broadband penetration dropped by 0.28% in March as MTN loses over 1m subscribers

The current figure of 48.21% in March returns Nigeria back to what it was in January when the figure stood at 48.20%. In fact, this is the first time the country has failed to record positive growth in its broadband coverage and generation since February last year when it dipped to 40.91% from 41.61% in January that same year.

For the NCC and the federal government, whose goal is to reach a 75% broadband penetration rate by 2025, the most recent data will undoubtedly be of great concern.

According to the Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2020-2025 inaugurated by Nigeria’s Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami, under the directives of President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria targets covering at least 90% of the population with a
penetration rate of 70% by the end of the plan’s lifetime.

Read also: Nigeria’s broadband penetration hits 48% contrary to FG’s previous claim of 100%

MTN records loss, others gain

Undoubtedly, it will be some time before another telecommunications provider unseats MTN as the leading player in Nigeria. But the telco giant would be worried about its most recent decline in active subscribers in contrast to its rivals’ consistent advances.

The number of MTN’s active users dropped by around a million in March, according to the latest figures. The government-mandated discarding of SIMs that have not been linked with the National Identity Number (NIN) is however faulted for the decline in the telco’s active subscriptions.

Broadband penetration figures

The company continues to dominate the telco industry with a market share of 40.54% with an active subscriber base of 91.5 million active subscribers. This represented a drop from the 92.7 million it recorded in February 2023.

Although the industry recorded a decline in active subscriptions in the industry’s total database with 1.1 million, Airtel, Glo and 9mobile all recorded gains.

Glo reported a rise in subscriptions of 44,850 during the month. By doing this, the operator was able to retain its ranking as the operator with the second-highest number of subscribers in March 2023. Glo’s overall number of subscriptions increased from 60.75 million in February to 60.79 million as a result of the new activations on the network.

In addition, Airtel added 28,420 new subscribers during the month, bringing its overall number of subscribers up to 60,32 million from 60,30 million in February. 9Mobile saw the biggest increase in March, with a 67,266 increase in their database. The overall number of active subscribers increased from 13.07 million in February to 13.14 million in March as a result.

Teledensity figures

In March 2023, the country’s teledensity—a statistic that counts the number of active telephone connections per 100 people residing in an area—fell to 118.48% from 119.01% in February as a result of the reduction in actively connected lines reported by the operators. NCC claims that a population estimate of 190 million is used to determine teledensity.

Read also: eNaira sees a 63% spike in transactions amid Naira scarcity, yet most Nigerians remain indifferent

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