GSM operators lose 8m subscribers in three months of 2021, rake in N2.26trn in 2020 – Report

[By VICTOR NZE]

Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has disclosed that the four leading GSM network companies in the countries lost a combined total of 8 million subscribers in three months spanning March 2021 and May 2021, this year.

The GSM operators including MTN, Airtel, Glo and 9mobile saw the huge drop in their subscriber base increase from the 3.17 million suffered in April 2021 and the 3.55 million lost in March 2021.

The huge drop in customer base by the telcos has been attributed to the ongoing Federal Government-mandated enrollment, re-registration exercise for customers to harmonise their SIM cards with the National Identity Number (NIN) regime.

Mobile operators in Nigeria

Also, data obtained from telecommunications sector regulatory agency of the Federal Government also showed that the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) generated an increase of 12.33 percent in revenue from operations in the country last year, a figure representing a total of N2.26 trillion, higher than the N2.019 trillion earned in 2019.

This is, however, as the Foreign Direct Investment (FDIs)) into the Nigerian telecoms industry in 2020, dropped from $942.9 billion in 2019 to $417.5 billion in 2020, according to the NCC which disclosed this, Thursday, adding that details of the 2020 Subscriber/Network Data Report were based on data obtained from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

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NCC in its report, Thursday, said the overall number of mobile subscribers in the country dropped from 141.41 million as of April to 140.13 million by the end of May 2021.

While Airtel lost a total of 2.84 million data subscribers within the period under review, as it incurred a drop of 38,956,026 customers recorded as of the beginning of March to 36,120,443 by the end of May 2021, the company had a total mobile subscriber base of 51.43 million as of February 2021, but had dropped to 50.03 million at the end of May 2021.

For MTN Nigeria, between March 2021 and May 2021, the telco lost 2.64 million data subscribers. At the end of May 2021, the company had 60,202,402 data subscribers, down from 61,575,323 and 62,843,182 it recorded at the end of March and February respectively.

However, between March 2021 and May 2021, it had lost a total of 3.3 million mobile subscribers. This represents a 4.27% reduction in data subscribers.

At the end of May 2021, MTN had 74,044,687 mobile subscribers, accounting for 39.7 per cent of the total subscriber base in the country.

Globacom and 9mobile also saw drops in their customer base as they lost a total of 2.112 million and 415,905 data subscribers respectively within the same period.

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The total number of subscribers of the four major telecommunication outfits dropped from 148,133,233 at the end of February 2021 to 144,581,026 at the end of March 2021.

Meanwhile, MNOs’ operating costs for 2020 dropped from N1.415 trillion in 2019 to N1.395 trillion a year after. This showed a slight decline of 1.46 per cent from the figures reported in 2019.

According to the NCC, the reduction in operating costs may have resulted from more efficient CAPEX.

The data showed that as of 2020, total outgoing local and national traffic was 150,825,830,687.40 minutes, while total incoming calls were 151,871,687,402.67 minutes.

MTN had the highest total outgoing and incoming traffic of 103,531,547,686 and 105,473,566,557 minutes respectively in 2020.

Conversely, total outgoing mobile international traffic was 453,202,089.27 minutes, while incoming to mobile was 717,166,679.72. MTN also reported the highest outgoing traffic of 270,177,167 and the highest incoming traffic of 264,977,868.6 for the period under review.

In the areas of Short Messages Sent (SMS), NCC puts the total national SMS both sent and received as of December 2020 at 17,364,524,490.02. This is a decline of (43.6 per cent) from that of the total SMS sent and received in the year 2019 that stood at 30,769,238,164.56 SMS.

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There was a 29.4 percent increase in the number of messages sent out in the year 2020 compared to 2019.

In the same vein, the year 2020 count of incoming SMS declined by 62.6 percent higher than that of 2019 with MTN recording the highest count of SMS received (6,290,889,268) in 2020, the highest count of SMS sent (6,100,543,865) within the period under review.

The total number of international SMS sent as of December 2020 was 57,566,961 while the total number of SMS received was 229,173,132.

The telecoms regulator stated that the total value of assets reported by the MNOs increased from N2.92 trillion in 2019 to N3.44 trillion one year after, representing an increase of 18.81 percent increase in the value of assets reported in the previous year.

According to NCC, at the end of last year, the service reported a total CAPEX of N404.8 billion as against the N339.7 billion invested in 2019.

NCC said the global pandemic altered the way and manner business activities were hitherto carried out globally.

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