By TECHNOLOGY TIMES Staff
Lagos. June 10, 2013: Globacom’s grip on the number two position by subscriber numbers is coming under threat from rival Airtel Nigeria which is inching closer as the market crossed the 117,271,067 active phone connections mark.
The Globacom-Airtel Nigeria spat is one of the key milestones of the new operator data for the Nigerian telecoms market released by the industry umpire showing MTN Nigeria in a comfortable lead by subscriber numbers with over 51.2 million active lines at Q1, 2013.
According to the Q1 2013 operator data from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) obtained by Technology Times, the total active connections among players in the market totaled some 117,271,067 active lines with the GSM sector accounting for 114,172,440 lines compared to 2,703,604 and 395,023 by their CDMA and fixed line/wireless counterparts respectively.
Overall the relatively bigger subscriber numbers give the GSM sector 97.36 per cent of the overall telecoms market share in Nigeria leaving CDMA and CDMA and fixed line/wireless networks to share 2.31 per cent and 0.34 per cent respectively.
On the other hand, the overall telecoms market recorded a Q4 2012-Q1 2013 growth of 3.60 per cent compared to 5.43 in the preceding quarter confirming the growing industry slowdown and tougher operating environment faced by telecoms companies late last year and into the beginning of 2013.
This was the period when severe regulatory measures ranging from promo bans, quality of service sanctions among other measures took a toll on telecoms operators to ramp up new subscribers.
Among the big players in the GSM sector, MTN Nigeria coasted on with its market leadership with 51,294,654 active lines while also recording the biggest quarterly growth of 8.12 per cent over the previous quarter within the period under review.
On the other hand Airtel Nigeria appears to be warming up to reclaim the number two spot by posting 23,670,986 lines against 23,833,796 recorded by Globacom leaving the Indian company with a difference of 162810 lines separating its catch-up ambition against its arch rival.
Pushing a keen bid to dominate the Nigerian telecoms space, Airtel Nigeria recorded 2.51 per cent quarterly growth against 1.21per cent of Globacom, the lowest within the GSM sector when pitted against 1.35 per cent by Etisalat Nigeria that also finished the race within the period under review with 15,114,484 active lines.
The moribund Mtel posted a static 258,520, believed to be the last market information available to the telecoms umpire from the mobile subsidiary of the pioneer national operator, NITEL which is being slated for liquidation by government.
Sunil Bharti Mittal, the Indian telecom mogul who also doubles as Chairman and Group CEO of Bharti Airtel, the company that pulled off the $9 billion purchase of the Zain African operations that gave the Indian company an African entry under the telecoms deal.
With control of Airtel Nigeria alongside 15 other operations of Zain, Sunil Mittal has promised to seize control of the local telecoms market from South Africa’s MTN Group.
Prior to the Zain deal, plans by the Mittal to close a $23 billion merger deal with South Africa’s MTN Group fell through twice.
Pitted in competition against MTN Group in Nigeria, and five other countries, Mittal had said at the company brand launch in Nigeria that he is on a mission to wrest control of the Nigeria telecoms market from his South African rival.
It is a major duel believed to be underway in Nigeria regarded as a veritable battleground as the largest African nation by population and mobile-phone subscribers.