SIM card crackdown shrinks Nigeria mobile sector


Nigeria mobile telephony

from OKORO CHINEDU in Lagos, Nigeria
Nigeria Bureau
LAGOS, (CAJ News) – NIGERIA has reported a drop in the number of active mobile lines and active internet connections after a directive by authorities to deactivate idle subscriber identity module (SIM) cards.

Data provided by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on mobile subscribers indicates mobile lines declined marginally by 0,5 percent (1,2 million lines)  to 220 million in June this year.

The decrease marks the fourth consecutive monthly decline and brings the cumulative loss in active lines in Africa’s most populous country to 7,1 million since February.

Active internet connections also decreased by 100 000 lines to 159,5 million.

As a result, the country’s teledensity dropped to 110 percent in June from 110,6 percent in May, while internet penetration fell slightly to 79,7 percent from 79,8 percent over the same period..

The reduction in the number of active mobile lines is attributed to the directive issued by the NCC to network providers to deactivate lines that have remained idle for a duration of six months.

According to NCC’s data, almost all the major network operators registered net subscribers losses in June.

Globacom was the exception. Its active subscriber base expanded by 180 000 to 61,3 million. This takes its share of mobile subscribers to 27,9 percent in June from 27,7 percent the previous month.

MTN Nigeria suffered the largest subscriber loss, with a net subscriber decline of 926 000 to 84,7 million. Consequently, its market share decreased to 38,5 percent in June from 38,7 percent in May.

Airtel Nigeria, and 9Mobile registered net subscriber losses of 337 000 and 82 000 to 60,2 million and 13,6 million, respectively.

“Despite losing market share, MTN continues to retain the largest share of active mobile subscribers, and its sector leadership based on other metrics is even more pronounced,” FBN Quest observed.

A 2022 report by the NCC puts MTN’s share of total incoming and outgoing voice traffic at 63 percent and 59 percent respectively. This compares with 28 percent and 26 percent for Airtel.

Additionally, out of the ₦3,3 trillion (US$4,4 billion) revenue generated by network operators in 2022, MTN accounted for approximately ₦2 trillion.

Despite the moderation in active subscribers, FBN Quest anticipates robust sector revenue growth, primarily propelled by double-digit expansion in data and other business segments like digital and finance technology.

Nigeria has previously deactivated SIM cards as part of tackling terror by Islamist sects.

– CAJ News

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