Based on the recent telecommunication sector survey released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on active voice and internet subscription for Q4 2020, the total number of active voice subscription declined by 0.32% q/q but rose by 10.78% y/y to 204.6 million. On the other hand, the total internet subscriber base grew by 1.84% q/q and 22.38% y/y to 154.3 million. Using an estimated population of c.206 million, the mobile penetration and internet adoption rate stands at 99% and 75%, respectively. Furthermore, analysis per state in Q4 2020 showed that Lagos state had the highest number of subscribers in both active voice and internet subscription with 24.88m and 18.94m subscribers, respectively.
In respect of market positioning of players in the industry, MTN maintained its fore front for both active voice and internet subscription in Q4 2020. For voice subscription, MTN retained its top spot with a market share of 39.5% ( vs Q4 2019; 37.2%) trailed by Airtel (27.2% vs Q4 2019; 27.2%), GLO (26.8% vs Q4 2019; 28.0%), 9MOBILE (6.3% vs Q4 2019; 7.4%) and Others (0.2% vs Q4 2019: 0.2%). For Internet subscription, MTN also took the lead with a market share of 42.4% (vs Q4 2019; 42.9%), followed by AIRTEL (26.8% vs Q4 2019; 27.4%), GLO (26.0% vs Q4 2019; 22.9%), 9MOBILE (4.6% vs Q4 2019; 6.4%) and Others (0.3% vs Q4 2019; 0.3%).
The growing use of social media, virtual communication tools such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet, etc. amid covid-19 disruptions, remote working and the attendant need to stay connected has built strong momentum for internet subscription. This performance was further evidenced by the impressive earnings printed by industry players in the last earning releases. Among other things is the nation's favourable demographic evidenced by an increasingly youthful population, rising smartphone penetration, and the continued investments in improving internet infrastructure to accelerate 4G coverage across the country. Also contributing, is the heightened competition among industry players for market share has also forced prices of data bundles lower, making internet usage very attractive to the average user, and perhaps this would eventually make data cheaper like it is in other markets.
The Nigeria's telecommunication sector continues to leverage the improving smartphone population, increasingly digitalised economy, and the paradigm shift in the work environment, to post enviable results. Looking ahead, we expect more growth in data and voice subscriptions, as smartphone adoption and covid-19 disruptions persist. However, we leave our card wide-opened considering the downside risk which we envisage might constitute a significant drag to subscribers base should they fail to integrate their National Identification Number (NIN) with their respective Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) card before the deadline.