• Monday, May 27, 2024
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BusinessDay

Nigeria’s internet usage falls first time in 11 months

Nigeria’s internet usage hits record high on rising 5G subscriptions

Nigeria’s internet usage dipped to 694,804.54 terabytes (TB) in February, according to new data from the Nigerian Communications Commission.

This marks the country’s first internet usage decline in eleven months (since April 2023), when total usage stood at 556,540.42 TB. This represents a 3.70 percent decrease from January’s 721,522 TB. The fall in internet usage occurred despite the marginal increase in broadband penetration and mobile internet subscriptions in the month.

Broadband penetration rose by 0.55 percentage points in February to 43.08 percent from 42.53 percent in January. Broadband penetration is now 5.41 percentage points below its February 2023 high of 48.49 percent. Total broadband subscriptions stood at 93.39 million in February, 1.30 percent higher than the 93.39 million it was in January 2024.

Mobile internet subscriptions rose by 1.30 million to 162.81 million. February was a recovery month for telecom subscriptions in the country. The total number of mobile subscriptions rose to 219.68 million from 218.11 million.

Despite the marginal fall in February, internet usage remains historically high, underscoring the country’s increasing dependence on digital services. 2G and 3G usage fell in the month, being reported to 57.55 percent and 9.17 percent (from 57.78 percent and 9.36 percent, respectively). However, 4G and 5G rose to 32.11 percent and 1.18 percent (from 31.75 percent and 1.11 percent, respectively), underscoring growth in smartphone penetration in the country.

Internet usage in Nigeria has surged in recent years because of growing reliance on digital services and a youthful population. In the past six months, it has grown from 353,118.89TB as of December 2021 to an average of over 600,000 TB.

This growth has been attributed to the increase in online activities that followed the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise in smartphone use in the country. According to GSMA, as of 2022, 58 percent of Nigerians living in urban areas and 32 percent living in rural areas owned smartphones. Smartphone penetration in the country stood at 52 percent in 2022.

“The increase in data traffic will be driven mainly by the growing usage of data-heavy services, primarily video streaming and online gaming. In Sub-Saharan Africa’s streaming market, where most customers rely on mobile broadband for connectivity, competition is heating up among global streaming providers (e.g., Netflix and Amazon Prime Video) and local providers (e.g., Showmax and Wi-flix),” GSMA recently said.

Internet usage is expected to continue its upward trajectory in Nigeria, with the country and Ethiopia poised to add close to 67 million unique mobile subscribers in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2030.

The rollout of new technologies is also expected to boost data usage. Karl Toriola, the chief executive officer of MTN Nigeria, noted, “5G has been instrumental towards servicing digitisation; a lot of people are shifting their consumption from traditional voice and circuit switch services to data services…”