Nigeria lost over 9 million phone lines to the SIM Card Registration order issued by Professor Isa Pantami, Communications and Digital Economy Minister, the industry regulator says.
The Minister, who had down a two-week ultimatum for the National Identity Number (NIN) submission by telecoms subscribers, which started from December 16, 2020, had also ordered that all SIMs card without NINs are to be blocked from telecom networks in Nigeria, under a nationwide scheme to identify phone subscribers.
Pantami also ordered that sale of new SIMs by mobile network operators (MNOs) be suspended, and directed the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to conduct an audit of the country’s phone subscribers’ database.
Nigeria’s subscriber number decreased from 204,601,313 subscribers in 2020 to 195,463,898 active voice subscriptions as at December 2021 recording a loss of 9,137,415 subscriptions, represents about 4.46% decline in total subscription within the period under consideration, NCC says in its 2021 Subscriber/Network Data Annual Report.
“The decrease in Operators’ subscriber base,” the telecoms regulator says, “was attributed majorly to the effect of the directive from NCC in December 2020 to all GSM Operators to suspend the sale and registration of new SIMs, SIM swaps and all porting activities. The objective of the audit exercise was to verify and ensure compliance by Mobile Network Operators with the set quality standards and requirements of SIM Card Registration as issued by the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and the Commission.”
NCC figure shows telecoms market still growing
But the loss of over 9 million subscriber lines has not stopped the growth of the Nigerian telecoms market which posted revenue totalling N3,247,595,808,883.87 at year-end 2021.
The telecoms industry’s contribution to the Nigerian Gross Domestic Products increased from 12.45% in the Q4 2020 to 12.61% in Q4 2021.
However, the subscriber loss was not restricted to phone lines alone as Nigeria’s teledensity decreased from 107.18% as at December 2020 to 102.40% by December 31st 2021.
The number of internet subscribers, NCC says, als decreased from 154,301,195 subscriptions as at December 2020 to 141,971,560 subscriptions as at December 2021 representing a decline of 8%. 4.
On the broadband penetration, the high-speed internet service also decreased from 45.02% as at December 2020 to 40.88% as at December, 2021. Similarly, broadband subscriptions decreased from 85,941,222 subscriptions in December 2020 to 78,041,883 subscriptions as at December 2021, according to NCC.
On the internet usage side, Nigerian users’ appetite recorded an uptick as there was an increase in the volume of data consumed in the year end December 2021 when compared with the year ended December 2020. The total volume of data consumed by internet subscribers in Nigeria increased to 353,118.89TB as at December 2021 from 209,917.40TB as at December 2020, representing an increase of 68.2% in data consumption within the period.
The Nigerian telecoms market remains investors’ favoured destination as capital inflow (Foreign Direct Investment) into the industry in year 2021 was approximately $753,044,446.35 against $417,481,615.30 as at Year 2020.
The Nigerian telecoms market also attracted growing infrastructural development, according to NCC which says that substantial telecoms infrastructure deployment was recorded in 2021 by telecoms providers that saw a total of 49, 579 towers buildout from mobile & fixed operators, including collocation and infrastructure companies.
The operators also reported a total number of 38,288 Base Stations, while microwave coverage recorded in Year 2021 stood at 290,940.69km by mobile and fixed Operators.
The mobile, fixed and other operators recorded a total number of 99 Gateways in use in the Nigerian telecoms industry as at December 2021, while fibre optics deployment stood at 86,057km (terrestrial fibre & submarine cable) as at December 2021.