NIGERIA has recorded a tenth consecutive yearly decline in active internet subscriptions.
This is attributed to the government’s ban on the sale and activation of new subscriber identity module (SIM) cards in 2021.
The ban is subject to linkages with the National Identification Number (NIN).
Recent data from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) shows a 3,3 percent decline to 143,2 million subscribers in February 2022.
Month-on-month, active internet subscriptions were unchanged.
The internet subscriptions are projected to decline further after last week, President Muhammadu Buahari approved the implementation of the blockage of SIMs not linked with NIN.
This is with effect from April 4.
FBN Quest, the market watcher, noted telcos had strictly enforced this policy on all SIMs issued (existing and new) in Nigeria with outgoing calls on unlinked SIMs barred.
Subscribers with blocked SIMs have been advised to link their SIMs to their NINs before the telcos can lift the restriction on their lines.
MTN Nigeria, the biggest operator, last Tuesday, disclosed to investors that it has registered about 47 million subscribers who had submitted their NIN as of March 31.
This represents about 67 percent of the company’s subscribers and 76 percent of service revenue.
According to the company, the subscribers on its network who have been barred from outgoing calls constituted about 9 percent of its total revenue in 2021.
In 2016, Nigeria slapped MTN with a fine of $5,2 billion (later reduced to $1,6 billion) for failing to disconnect about 5,1 million mobile subscribers as authorities cracked down on unregistered SIM cards.
The telecoms industry remains an important contributor to Nigeria’s economy and employment, FBN Quest has noted.
In the fourth quarter (Q4) 2021, the sector’s contribution to GDP was 12,61 percent, up from 11,94 in Q3 2021.
On an annual basis, the sector’s contribution to GDP was 12,66 percent in 2021, up from 12,21 percent in 2020.
Broadband penetration fell to 40,91 percent in February 2022 from 41,61 percent in January 2022.
This is the first decline in three months.
Year-on-year, broadband penetration fell from 42,06 percent in February 2021.
In 2020, Nigeria launched a new broadband plan (2020 – 2025), through which the government expects to achieve 90 percent broadband penetration in the country by 2023.
“With current dynamics of declines in active internet subscribers, these targets may not be achieved,” FBN Quest stated.
– CAJ News