Home News Deals and Investment Airtel & MTN: Why Voice Revenue is Still King in Nigeria

Airtel & MTN: Why Voice Revenue is Still King in Nigeria

The financial reports so far by top Nigerian telecommunications companies, Airtel and MTN, show that voice call still generates the most revenue in the country. Let’s take a brief look at the reports by these telcos.


Airtel reported a data subscriber growth of 4.5 per cent, generating revenue of $265 million (reported currency) at the end of June, up from $253 million in March. Data revenue rose 35.7% from last year and now accounts for 31.1% of Airtel’s total revenue.

However, this was not enough to completely offset the decrease in voice sales, resulting in a 5.3% fall in Airtel ‘s overall earnings.


MTN’s overall number of active data users leapt from 1.7 million to 26.8 million between January and March. Data revenue Equally witnessed growth in data revenue as it increased by 59.2% in the first quarter.

However, despite growth in data services, MTN will face revenue challenges in subsequent quarters. Data revenue only forms a fairly small portion of MTN’s income with most of its revenue coming from voice calls.

Possible cause of the drop in voice calls

The drop in voice call revenue has been linked to the COVID-19 pandemic and the drop in oil prices which stalled economic activities and reduced people’s earning capacity.

However, this builds curiosity as to why voice still beats data in the country, considering that so far in 2020, Nigeria has 99.05 million internet users, with a penetration rate of  46.6 of the population (sourced from Statista).

Clearly voice calls are doing better numbers than data in the country, but why is this? Let’s take a look at the possible reasons why Nigerians are still hot on voice calls.

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People Click to Call while Surfing the internet

A recent study by Google indicates that the increased usage of smartphones, make people even more likely to use click-to-call options on websites and check for phone numbers in online advertisements than ever before.

Google says that 84% of people use cell phones along with other devices while surfing. and  48% of local mobile searches ended with a call.

Customers prefer to interact verbally with businesses

The internet has opened new channels of communication between businesses and customers: social media, help desks, online support systems. But a lot of customers are not familiar with them and prefer talking directly to customer support.

Another research by Google shows that 39% of mobile searchers, who used “click-to-call” at least once, do usually call businesses. The key reason they make a call instead of using other channels for 57% of them is the need to talk to a real person.

Customers call when there’s an urgent need

Customers will make calls to businesses if they have an urgent need for a particular product. According to research by Ringostat, (a platform that provides call tracking, telephony, and end-to-end analytics) more than half of eCommerce transactions are driven by phone call. For instance, a customer sees a smartphone they like on an eCommerce site, but will prefer the device in red colour and needs to purchase the phone on that same day. Such a customer will most likely put a call across to make the necessary inquiries.

All in all, It can be said that voice will continue to be relevant not only for Nigeria and across the globe. The enduring relevance of voice calls is a wake-up call for businesses to start taking their phone calls more seriously. The importance of having qualified personnel to answer phone calls should not be overlooked as it is crucial to scaling and maintaining a corporate image.


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