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Nigeria’s subscriber base to shrink

The ongoing sync of the National Identity Number (NIN) with Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) will further reduce the number of subscribers by at least three per cent this year, a report released on Tuesday has shown.

In only four months of the NIN-SIM verification, the industry’s active telephony subscriptions fell by 7.7 per cent from 204.5 million as at last December to 188.7 million at the end of April, this year.

According to Agusto & Co’s 2021 Telecommunications Industry, on the back of anticipated SIM deactivations for subscribers without valid NINs, subscriber base will shrink by three per cent (year-on-year) by the end of 2021 to 198 million subscribers.


It said, however, due to the sustained uptake in mobile internet services and increasing diversification of value-added services by telcos, revenue will grow, albeit by a lower rate of five per cent in 2021 (2020: 14 per cent) while it anticipated that the logistics challenge around the NIN-SIM verification exercise will be resolved by the end of the year and thus, double-digit top line growth should be restored by 2022.

The report said the use of mobile phones has grown exponentially due to the smart phone revolution, a continuous upgrade of network infrastructure and improving quality of service. The latest technology – the Fifth Generation (5G), despite launch drawbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic is commercially available in about 40 countries so far, including Kenya and South Africa.

Agusto & Co expects that the 5G technology will be commercially available in Nigeria by mid-next year.

According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), global mobile phone subscriptions were expected to grow from 8.2 billion last year to about 10 billion by 2025, driven by increasing affordability of smartphones and accelerating technological adoption in sub-Saharan Africa.


Growth in the use of mobile phones should also be supported by population growth in the Asia-Pacific continent.

“The COVID-19 pandemic posed an extraordinary test for the entire global community considering several social isolation measures mandated to curb the spread of the coronavirus. For this reason, the telecommunications industry provided businesses and individuals with connectivity, which fostered resilience as the world grappled with the pandemic. At the peak of the isolation, internet traffic in Europe increased by about 70 per cent while demand for streaming services grew by at least 12 per cent], with some of the streaming service providers having to lower video quality to manage the rise in internet traffic.

“In Nigeria, the proportion of mobile internet users to mobile phone subscriptions increased from 69.1per cent in January 2020 to 75.4 per cent as at December 2020. We expect the country’s telecommunication consumption pattern to be sustained in the near-term given lingering concerns around the emergence of COVID-19 variants,” the report said.

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