The total number of mobile subscriptions in Nigeria dropped by 1.01 million to 225.82 million in March 2023, indicating a 0.45 percent decrease, according to the latest industry statistics from the Nigerian Communications Commission.
This shows a decline in growth in the telecommunications sector for the first time in almost two years as mobile subscriptions have recorded a steady growth since June 2021.
The total number of mobile subscriptions fell from 226.84 million in February 2023 to 225.82 million in March 2023. However, the data from NCC indicated a 3.59 million increase from the 222.23 million mobile subscriptions in December 2022.
Though MTN maintains its position as the largest telecom provider with 91.55 million mobile subscriptions, it recorded a decline compared to 91.71 million subscribers in February. On the other hand, other telecom providers recorded an increase.
While Globacom ranked second with 60.79 million, Airtel followed with 60.33 million, and 9mobile with 13.14 million mobile subscriptions. On a year-on-year basis, a significant increase was recorded in mobile subscriptions from 199.20 million in March 2022 to 225.84 million in March 2023.
Teledensity, which refers to the number of active telephone connections per 100 inhabitants living within an area, fell to 118.48 percent in March as against 119.01 percent in February. Mobile Internet subscriptions grew to 156.98 million, with broadband penetration rising to 53.50 percent and subscriptions declining to 92.03 million.
According to telecommunication companies, the slight decline might be due to the high rate of inflation, petrol, and cash shortages during the period under review.
In its Q1 2023 Earnings Release, the Chief Executive Officer, of MTN Nigeria, Karl Toriola, stated that the firm continued to experience headwinds in its operating environment in the first quarter of 2023 as it navigates a challenging working environment.
“The impacts of the ongoing global macroeconomic and geopolitical developments on energy, food, and general inflation were exacerbated locally by petrol and cash shortages experienced during the period. This placed additional pressure on economic activity, consumers, and businesses.
“The private sector experienced the deepest contraction in March 2023 since the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, driving down the PMI index to 42.3 points from 44.7 points in February 2023. The inflation rate in Nigeria rose to a 17-year high of 22% in March 2023, representing the third consecutive month-on-month increase in 2023, with an average of 21.9% in the quarter. In addition, supply chains were compounded by exchange rate volatility and the availability of foreign currency needed for capex,” the CEO said.
The new industry statistics further showed that the telecommunications sector contributed 13.55 percent to the overall Gross Domestic Product of Nigeria in Q4 2022 compared to 12.84 percent in Q3 2022 and 12.61 percent in Q4 2021, indicating a quarter-on-quarter and year-on-year increase.