BusinessDay

Airtel, Glo see growth as broadband penetration drags at 39.9%

While Airtel and Globacom saw an increase in internet subscription rate in November, Nigeria’s largest mobile operator-MTN, and 9mobile recorded no single subscription growth in the period under review.

Airtel gained more than 2,500 new subscribers to have moved from 36.8m in October to 36.9m, while Globacom saw an increase at 0.74 percent (38.9m to 39.2m). For MTN and 9mobile, they saw a decline of 0.36 and 0.48 percent respectively (58.3m to 58.1m and 5.8m to 5.7m).

Similarly, broadband penetration in Nigeria increased by 0.09 percent to reach 39.9 percent in November from 39.8 percent in October. Data from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) showed.

The broadband penetration has struggled to meet up with the marginal growth it recorded in August at 41 percent. It declined by one and 0.12 percent in September and October respectively.

This steady decline has indicated a threat to the Federal Government’s plan to achieve a 90 percent penetration rate in terms of population and a 70 percent rate in terms of their total landmass in 2023.

The National Broadband Plan 2020 – 2025, which was launched by Isa Pantami, Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, in March 2020 replaced the defunct 2013-2018 Broadband Plan. Despite the new target, broadband penetration still lingers around the previous target of 30 percent at the current rate of 39.98 percent.

Read also: NCC sets new mobile International Termination Rate for voice services at N18.46

At 39.9 percent, it means the government requires about 31 percent more penetration to reach the 70 percent target in about one year. The most the country has added in a calendar year is between 7 and 8 percent.

Ikechukwu Nnamani, President of the Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria, said the continued drop might be due to vandalism of telecom infrastructure, insecurity, multiple taxation, the COVID-19 pandemic, government policy as well as power supply challenges.

“While it may not be a cause for alarm as those numbers may swing in the positive direction in the coming months, some of the reasons this drop may have happened including cases of vandalism of telecom infrastructure, insecurity in some parts of the country that has not allowed for efficient service provision, among others,” he said.

As broadband penetration shows a significant transformative impact on how people live and work, it also empowers subscribers with a global reach.

However, experts still associate factors limiting broadband penetration in Nigeria with poor network infrastructure, inadequate electrical power supply, right of way (RoW), cost of price, among others.

The trend has flat-lined year-on-year and remains in the slowing down of growth witnessed on the quarter-on-quarter numbers for 2021.

“The Q4 2021 numbers are sensitive to Federal Government policies and as such, it needs Twitter, other digital services and applications to provide an increase in consumer usage on the back of 5G deployment around Q2 2022 onwards. FG needs to adopt a light hand regulatory approach to ensure that any potential momentum in the market is not severely depressed,” Olusola Teniola, Nigerian Coordinator, Alliance for Affordable Internet said.

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.