In a recent financial disclosure, Nigeria’s foremost mobile network operators, MTN and Airtel, reported a combined earnings of N403.2 billion from data services in the third quarter of 2023. The surge is primarily due to the heightened data consumption patterns observed among Nigerians.
Delving deeper into the numbers, MTN, which takes pride in being the country’s largest telecom operator in terms of subscriber count, showcased N279.5 billion as its data revenue for the span between July and September 2023. This revenue figure marks a whopping 38.9% leap compared to the N201.1 billion noted during the same timeframe in 2022.
On the other hand, Airtel Nigeria, as part of its quarterly financial results ending September 2023, posted earnings of N123.7 billion (equivalent to $157 million) solely from data subscriptions. This achievement signifies a robust 29.3% upswing in their data revenue.
What’s driving the growth?
Both MTN and Airtel agree that the consistent rise in their data revenue is a direct reflection of the increase in data consumption by their user base. MTN’s Chief Executive Officer, Karl Toriola, pointed out that this trend is buttressed by several factors. The introduction of improved MTN data bundles, a surge in smartphone usage, and substantial investments in enhancing their network infrastructure all contributed.
“We’ve successfully increased our 4G network’s reach to cover 80.5% of Nigeria’s populace, a growth from 79.1% in December of the previous year. There’s a marked 29.1% rise in data usage per user, translating to 8.6GB,” Toriola mentioned.
Meanwhile, Segun Ogunsanya, CEO of Airtel Africa, highlighted that Airtel Nigeria observed a similar spike in data usage. Their data revenue swelled by 29.3%, propelled by an impressive 17.4% growth in their data customer base and an increase of 12.3% in the data Average Revenue Per User (ARPU). He emphasized, “Our continued investment in 4G network infrastructure means almost 100% of our sites now offer 4G services. Additionally, 233 of our sites have upgraded to 5G.”
A glimpse at the larger picture
Supporting these company-specific insights, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) shed light on the broader scenario. Data from August 2023 reveals that Nigerians consumed a staggering 655,879.86 terabytes of data. This August figure indicates a 6.6% earnings increase from the previous month.
However, a curious observation was that even as data usage shot up, there was a slight decline in internet subscriptions, suggesting that current subscribers might be using more data. The total internet subscriptions across various platforms like mobile, fixed, and VoIP dropped marginally to 159 million in August from 159.5 million in July 2023.
What to note
The “MTN and Airtel Report N403.2 Billion Earnings from Q3 2023 Data Services” underscores a key trend in Nigeria’s telecom sector: a consistent rise in data consumption. With both MTN and Airtel registering impressive revenue growth and Nigeria’s general data consumption on an upward trajectory, it’s evident that digital connectivity and internet usage patterns are rapidly evolving in the country.
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