By Olubunmi Adeniyi
Lagos. February 11, 2013: MTN Nigeria, counting over 48 million active lines, has maintained a comfortable lead in the Nigerian telecoms market that crossed the 113 million active lines in 2012; new market information released by the industry umpire has shown today underscoring the vibrancy underway in Africa’s fastest growing market.
The latest telecoms market information from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) reveals that a growing number of Nigerians now have access to telecoms services as operators extend their networks across the country where telephone density (teledensity), the number of phone connections for every hundred persons within the population, reached 80.85 at the end of 2012.
Meanwhile, the new market information reveals that not much has changed fundamentally in the balance of power among operators as four influential GSM networks control over 95 per cent of the overall telecoms market by subscriber numbers as 113, 195,951 active connections were recorded at the end of last year.
MTN Nigeria and three other GSM network operators, Glo Mobile, Airtel Nigeria and Etisalat Nigeria still rule the market split among these four big players accounting for the crème of the Nigerian telecoms pie with 108,570, 703 active lines within the same period.
Visafone is the number 5 operator by subscriber numbers and a leader in the CDMA market with a combined active lines of 2,294,426 on its mobile CDMA and fixed wireless networks at the end of last year.
The big three GSM operators, MTN Nigeria, Globacom and Airtel Nigeria recorded an impressive market growth last year as they each added close to two million customers to their networks by the last quarter of 2012.
The market information shows that the GSM market’s last entrant, Etisalat Nigeria fell below the mark by adding only 520,270 million to its 14,392,531 subscriber lines within the same period as its rivals.
The last quarter of 2012 was a tough period for operators as it witnessed a freeze on promotions and allied schemes that may add new subscribers by the telecoms regulator which cited pervasive network congestions faced by mobile phone users.
Amid this, MTN Nigeria managed to close 2012 with 47, 440,991 active lines; Globacom Limited, the second national operator, with 24,124,716 lines while Airtel Nigeria recorded 23,092,195 lines.
This means that MTN added 1,801,242 more active lines to the 45,639,749 it recorded in September 2012. Also, Globacom ended September 2012 with 22,260,822 active and increased by 1,803,894 lines within the last quarter of 2012.
On Airtel’s side, the Indian Bharti Airtel owned company added more customers to its network than every other operator in the country. At the end of the year, Airtel increased its subscriber base by 1,990,437 active lines in the last quarter of 2012.
Nigeria’s mobile phone subscriber lines totalled 108,829,223 active connections on GSM networks as against 2,948,562 recorded by CDMA operators by close of 2012.
The market information reveals that no competitor has been able to match MTN Nigeria’s market leadership as it controlled 43.5 per cent of the overall GSM market at the end of 2012.
Globacom gained 22.1 per cent of the GSM market while Airtel Nigeria, which added the highest subscriber figure within the period accounted for 21.2 per cent within the period under review.
On the other hand, Etisalat gained a GSM sector market share of 13.7 per cent while Mtel accounted for only 0.2 per cent.
In 2012, Airtel Nigeria was so determined to overtake two of its key competitors in Nigeria by redefining and redirecting its current marketing and operational strategies towards offering better customer services and coming up with new special packages for its customers.
As one of its strong point in 2012, Airtel was the first GSM operator to offer 3.75G internet services in all 36 states of Nigeria.
With the pan-Nigeria launch of 3.75G services, the company boosted customers’ experience with high speed mobile broadband and internet access, empowering telecoms consumers to watch live TV, download music, make video calls as well as send and receive emails using enabled devices.
On MTN’s part, wooing customers with promos was a big deal for the company in 2012. For example, it pulled off the biggest promo, the MTN Ultimate Wonder, in which customers were given opportunity to win weekly cash prizes while the ultimate winner went home with the cash equivalent of a Cessana 182T airplane, the grand prize.
Within the CDMA market, the sector was led by Visafone which had 2, 265,874 subscriber lines at the end of 2012. The company dropped by 57,773 lines from 2,323,647 subscriber lines it had in September 2012.
In the same period, Starcomms recorded 307,844 lines and dropped by 85,451 subscriber lines followed by Multi-Links which also ended the year with 263, 767 subscriber lines decreasing from the 411,351 lines it accounted for at Q3 2012.
Zoom mobile still retains 111,077 active lines it had been having since the beginning of the year 2012.
Within the CDMA market, Visafone recorded the highest market growth rate of 76.8 per cent followed by Starcomms with 10.4 per cent, Multi-Links 8.9 per cent and Reliance with 3.7 per cent at the end of 2012.