The latest statistics from the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) has revealed that since the beginning of this year, the four telecoms service providers have recorded zero porting activities on their networks.
Business Remarks gathered that this is the first time the industry will witness this ever since its introduction.
Mobile Number Portability (MNP) service which was introduced into the Nigerian telecom industry on April 22, 2013, was aimed at improving competition in the sector. MNP is the process that enables mobile telephone users to retain their mobile telephone numbers when changing from one network carrier to another.
Recall last year, Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta at the webinar organised by the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) in Lagos disclosed that seven years into its launch in Nigeria, over one million (1.111,197) subscribers have so far utilised the Mobile Number Portability (MNP) service in the country.
Although subscribers still lament the poor quality of mobile network services in the country, even as drop calls increased in recent times, further findings carried out by Business Remarks disclosed that mobile network operators (MNOs) in Nigeria has rolled out the majority of fibre cables across the country, with MTN, Airtel and Glo laying 64% (34,436km) of the total fibre distance (54,000km) currently covered.
Speaking with Business Remarks, the President of ATCON, Engr. Ikechukwu Nnamani said it will be good to see if there is a correlation between the Zero porting noticed and the ban on sim card registration and activation that took place over that same period.
“It is possible no number was ported because of the restrictions placed by the Regulator on Sim activities during that period. If it is not based on restrictions by the Regulator it only means subscribers were satisfied with their current networks during that period”, he stated.
Also, ATCON’s Immediate Past President, Mr Olusola Teniola said the Mobile Number Portability (MNP) process relies on the ported number to be associated with a new SIM by the Service Provider that the subscriber has ported to.
He also noted that during the period of concern, FG placed a ban on the issuance of new SIM cards under the enforced revised SIM registration policy. Hence the reason for zero ports during that period.
Teniola added that generally MNP since inception has recorded low ported numbers relative to the total active number of SIMs registered across all networks in the country, so the impact of this is marginal to the overall revenue numbers in the industry.
On the quality of the network, he mentioned that the information on hand would suggest that the ban on new SIM card registration and activation may have inadvertently created lost opportunities in the industry and presented alternatives for consumers to explore other alternatives by adopting increased usage of OTT apps to communicate or use other channels.
Reacting to the implication of the zero porting activities towards the growth of Nigeria’s telecoms industry, Teniola stressed that there is an evident correlation in the numbers vis-a-vis SIMs deactivated, lost, stolen or not being able to be swapped and the drop in the telecom sector’s Q1 .2021 contribution to GDP relative to Q4.2020’s peak and this in addition to the damping on consumer spending post-COVID-19 will place additional pressure on Service Providers’ margins in Q2.2021 going forward before a likely rebound.
While speaking on the contribution of the telecoms sector to Nigeria GDP, Nnanami noted that the telecom sector has continued to positively contribute to the GDP and this is commendable. Despite the difficult operating environment the telecom sub-sector has continued to support the Nigerian economy and improve the quality of lives of the citizens.
“We believe more positive impact will be seen if the necessary support is given to the sector by the government”, the ATCON President highlighted.