BusinessDay

Telecom sector sees first voice subscriber decline in 5 years

The telecom sector saw a sluggish recovery in the number of voice subscribers in December 2021, however, the total report for the year was not very promising as the industry decline for the first in five years.

Industry statistics released by Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) showed that all the telcos in the sector saw a little increase in the number of subscribers from 192 million in November to 195 million in December 2021, giving an added 3 million subscribers within a period of one month.

Globacom and Airtel took the lead, topping the chart with 1 million added subscribers. Specifically, Globacom increased from 53.7 million in November to 54.8 million in December and Airtel rose from 52.9 in November to 53.9 in December 2021.

On the other hand, MTN Nigeria which still maintains the lead as the telco with the largest number of active subscribers, saw a little increase from 73.4 million to 73.5 million within the same period of November to December, giving the company 100,000 subscriber growth while 9mobile also counted a sluggish growth from 12.75 million in November to 12.78 million in December.

According to the statistics, this growth was not consistent during the year as it kept fluctuating on a Month on Month (MoM) analysis, from January to December 2021.

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However, despite this increase in the last month of 2021, the telcos still fall behind the numbers in the previous year where they recorded a whooping 204 million subscribers by December 2020 compared to the 195 million in the same month of 2021.

This represents a total 9 million loss on a Year on Year (YoY) analysis from 2020 to 2021 and making it the first time the industry is seeing a drop in 5 years.

The number of subscribers was 144.6 million in 2017, 172.4 million in 2018, 184.4 million in 2019, and 204. 1 million in 2020, then followed by the 195m in December 2021 which signifies the drop in 5 years.

Meanwhile over the last 5 years, Globacom have maintained consistency in the number of subscriber growth ranging from 38 million, 45 million, 51 million, 54.1 million and 54.8 million respectively, making it the only telco that have not dropped on the YoY analysis. MTN could not meet up with its consistency because of a decline in December 2021, which range 52 million, 67 million, 68 million, 80 million and 73 million from 2017 to 2022 respectively.

Similar to MTN, Airtel was also not able to maintain the consistency following a drop in 2021 ranging from 37 million, 44 million, 50 million, 55 million, and 53 million from December 2017 to December 2021.

Unlike the other three telcos, 9mobile saw a consistent decrease within the same period of 5 years.

9mobile dropped from 16.9 million in 2017, down to 12.7 million in 2021, when it was lastly updated representing a subscriber loss of nearly 5 million in 5 years.

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