The impact of the tottering Nigerian economy may have been felt in the telecom sector where its subscription (active subscribers’ base) has dropped by 11,539,701 in the first quarter of 2021 according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
The NBS in its latest Telecoms Sector Data Report noted the sector recorded a total of 358,902,508 active subscribers comprising of both internet subscribers and active voice callers in the fourth quarter of 2020 but which dropped to 347,362,807 in the first quarter of 2021 indicating that a total of 11,539,701 subscribers have dropped.
Of the total subscription figure for the sector, MTN maintains dominance, notching up 137,500,554 out of the total 347,362,807 industry’s subscribers.
Breakdown of the 358,902,508 showed the number of internet subscribers in Q4 of 2020 was 154,301,195 while the number the active voice callers for the period was 204,601,313.
However in the first quarter of 2021, the number of Internet subscribers dropped to 144,949,194, while that of the active voice callers was 192,413,613 indicating the economic downturn in the country may be taking a toll on every facet of Nigeria’s life.
Active internet subscription grew to 154,301,195 in Q4 2020 from 151.5 million in Q3 of 2020 when there were various forms of restrictions to curb the pandemic and the drop in the last quarter may mean less reliance on the telecom sector for human activities owing to the removal of lockdowns and the easing of restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
Another factor that could be responsible according to a cross-section of Nigerians interviewed is that many organisations are still observing the COVID-19 protocols which encourage remote working operations in which staff have a roaster on when to report to offices.
The NBS latest sector report notes that the drop represents -6.06% quarter on quarter (QoQ) from the 154.3 million subscribers of Q4 2020. The number of active internet subscribers in Q3 was 151.5 million.
In the figures released Friday for Q1’2021, the NBS stated that fewer subscribers were also active on voice calls compared to Q4’20 where active voice subscribers declined by -0.32% QoQ.
“Telecoms data for Q1 2021 reflected that a total of 192,413,613 subscribers were active on voice as against 204,601,313 in Q4 2020.
The drop represents a -5.96% decrease in voice subscriptions QoQ according to the Telecoms data for Q4’20 that reflected that a total of 204.6 million subscribers were active on voice as against 205.25 million in Q3’20. This represented a 0.32 per cent decrease in voice subscriptions QoQ.
“Similarly, a total of 154.3 million subscribers were active on the internet as against 151.5 million in Q3’20. This represented a 1.84 per cent growth in internet subscriptions QoQ.
The statistics body said further that Lagos State had the highest number of subscribers in terms of voice, together with Ogun and Kano, while Ebonyi and Bayelsa recorded the least number of subscribers.
“Lagos State has the highest number of subscribers in terms of active voice per State in Q1 2021 and is closely followed by Ogun and Kano States, respectively while Bayelsa and Ebonyi states have the least number of subscribers.
“Similarly, Lagos State has the highest number of subscribers in terms of active internet per State in Q1 2021 and is closely followed by Ogun and Kano States respectively while Bayelsa and Ebonyi states have the least number of subscribers,” the NBS added.
Concerning the highest share of subscriptions, Mobile Telecommunications Network (MTN) maintained its dominance with the highest share of subscriptions.
This is closely followed by Globacom, Airtel and the EMTS otherwise known as 9mobile, respectively, according to the NBS which noted that there were 104.4 million internet users in Nigeria in January 2021.
The number of internet users in Nigeria increased by 19 million (+22 per cent) between 2020 and 2021 while internet penetration in Nigeria stood at 50 per cent in January 2021, according to the nation’s statistics agency.