Recently, the Nigerian Communications Commission updated its statistical dashboard showing that number of mobile subscribers have continued to decline since December 2020. In the recent update, the number of subscribers fell 4.13m from 200.21m in January to 196.08m in February 2021, placing the total loss of subscribers for 2021 at 8.44m. Also, number of subscribers who accessed the internet dropped from 154.31m to 148.52m between December and February.
Also, was an all-encompassing drop in internet subscription between the months of December 2021 and February 2020. MTN, the industry leader which held c. 66m internet subscribers on its record had so far lost 2.60m of its customers. Similarly, Airtel Africa, 9Mobile, and Globacom recorded respective drops in their number by 2.4m, 0.5m, and 0.4m.
Recall that the Nigerian Communications Commission is currently championing the National Identification Number (NIN) and Subscribers Identification Module Integration in Nigeria. The recent trajectory in the number of internet users is noted as an offshoot of the protracted NIN-SIM Integration, which has made it difficult for new SIM cards to be registered, and for returning customers to re-access telecommunication services in Nigeria. Perhaps this could also be ascribed to the continued shrink in consumers' purchasing power amid dwindling household income.
Going by the pronouncement of a federal high court in Lagos, where the court held on the 23 March 2020 that the NCC should postpone the deadline for the integration for a further two months, we expect the impact on subscribers' number to remain. In our view, the NCC needs to further review the whole procedure of NIN-SIM integration such that it would be hastened up, considering the past contributions of the industry and how importantly positioned it is in aiding Nigeria's current and future economic growth.