Drop in internet subscription on GSM platforms

The latest data released by the NCC, the industry regulator, show that internet subscriptions stood at 90.0 million in March, representing a y/y contraction of -2.5%. The figure implies density of 48.6% in a population estimated at 185 million, placing Nigeria well above the African average of around 16% as estimated by McKinsey. We notice that internet subscriptions have dropped steadily for the past six months. We assume that the clampdown on unregistered SIM cards by the NCC is a primary reason for the steady decline.

Furthermore, apart from the revision of spending patterns by most consumers due to the current squeeze on household pockets, we suspect that the y/y contraction may also be due to other internet subscription operators such as SMILE, Spectranet, Swift amongst others gradually gaining market share. These operators seem to offer better data speed as well as more data options. 

In March MTN secured the highest number of internet subscriptions via GSM with 34% of total market share. However, when compared with the corresponding period in 2016, the operator has lost 7.7 million internet subscribers.

Broadband penetration is currently at 21%. The FGN’s target of 30% over the next one year is still attainable but dependent on investments into the sector. We gather that the FGN recently inaugurated a new National Broadband Council to assist with attaining its 2018 target.


Drop in internet subscription on GSM platforms Sources: Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC); FBNQuest Research

For Nigeria to transition into a smart economy, huge investments into telecommunications infrastructure is required. Last week the NCC disclosed that Nigeria currently has less than 50,000 base stations. To put this into context, the United Kingdom has about 60,000 telecom base stations despite having one-third of Nigeria’s population.

According to the industry regulator, at least 80,000 telecommunications base stations are required to effectively deploy 4G as well as 5G networks across the country.

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