The telecommunication companies in Nigeria, MTN, Airtel, 9mobile, lost more than 140 million new subscribers within the first quarter of 2021, the Q1 report released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed.
The loss was occasioned by the ban on the sale and registration of new SIM cards in the country. Last December, the minister of communications and digital economy, Isa Pantami, had directed the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to audit the subscriber registration database.
The directive also compelled mobile network operators to suspend the sale, registration and activation of new SIM cards until the completion of the audit exercise. The audit, however, is contingent on the completion of the ongoing National Identification Number (NIN), which has been extended to June 30, 2021.
The NBS statistics show that Nigeria’s largest network by market share lost 4.84 million subscribers in Q1 2021, Globacom lost N1.92 million, Airtel Nigeria lost 5.26 million while 9mobile lost 131,766 million subscribers in the same period.
Subscribers in Nigeria’s telecoms market declined by over 12 million in Q1 2021, according to NCC.
The data also shows the growth rate for the telcos albeit stifled. In its quarterly trading update for the period, MTN said its progress in Q1 was supported by “growth in data and voice revenue and was achieved despite a 5 million decline in subscribers to 71.5 million. This was due to the effects of customer churn and the regulatory restrictions on new SIM sales and activations.”
MTN did not disclose the financial implications of the regulatory restriction but Airtel Africa claimed that the financial impact was not significant on its business for the period In review.
The NBS data also shows that Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew marginally by 0.51 percent in the first in Q1 2021, indicating a slow but steady recovery. This means two consecutive quarters of growth.
The second and third quarters of 2020 recorded negative growth rates but things picked up in the fourth quarter of 2020 as the GDP grew by 0.11 percent.
According to the report, the oil sector recorded a decline of 2.21 percent (year-on-year) in Q1 2021, while the non-oil sector grew by 0.79 percent in real terms in the same quarter.
“Growth in the non-oil sector was driven by the Information and Communication (Telecommunication) sector, while other drivers include Agriculture (Crop Production); Manufacturing (Food, Beverage & Tobacco); Real Estate; Construction and Human Health & Social Services,” the report disclosed.
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