Internet subscriber numbers shot up to 152.15 million in the first 10 months of the year to October (M10 2022) in the latest Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) data, up by 12.17 million or 8.69 per cent on 139.98 million in M10 2021.
Broadband penetration also rose from 39.89 per cent in M10 2021 to 45.55 per cent in M10 2022.
MTN had the highest increase of 10.61 per cent of internet subscribers, from 58.32 million in M10 2021 2021 to 64.51 million in M10 2022.
The market leader is followed by Globacom which grew 8.83 per cent from 38.97 million to 42.41 million, and Airtel 8.76 per cent from 36.89 million to 40.12 million.
But 9mobile numbers slashed from 5.80 million in M10 2021 to 5.11 million.
Industry experts have predicted data revenue would soon outpace voice revenue.
And MTN Nigeria Chief Executive Officer Karl Toriola disclosed “data revenue rose by 49.1 per cent on increased subscribers and data usage.
“This was sustained by an aggressive 4G network expansion and enhanced quality and capacity of our network to support rising data traffic as we continue to drive the conversion of existing subscribers on the 3G network to 4G and drive smartphone penetration.
“As a result, data traffic grew by 70.6 per cent YoY [year-on-year], with 4G accounting for 78.6 per cent of overall traffic, while data usage (MB per user) rose by 52.2 per cent.
“In addition, the number of smartphones on our network continues to increase, with the addition of about 4.4 million in the nine months, bringing smartphone penetration to 52.0 per cent.”
Smartphones become computers for Nigerians
“Smartphones have become the computer for many Nigerians today. Unfortunately, the high costs of these devices have made them out of reach for many,” MTN Nigeria Chief Marketing Officer Adia Sowho stressed, per The PUNCH.
“Factors such as forex fluctuation, chipset shortages, and inflation are continuously driving up the cost of phones.”
Nigeria has the largest mobile market in Sub-Saharan Africa and a 10 per cent increase in mobile broadband penetration could lead to a 2.46 per cent growth in Africa, according to the World Bank.
Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA) disclosed in its report titled “The Mobile Economy Sub-Saharan Africa 2022” that most people in Nigeria and Africa access the internet through their phones.
“As the primary way most people access the internet in Sub-Saharan Africa, mobile is driving digital inclusion,” it said.
“This delivers significant economic benefits, reduces poverty, and transforms lives by providing people with access to a range of life-enhancing services.
“By the end of 2021, around 40 per cent of the adult population in Sub-Saharan Africa subscribed to mobile internet services.
“Although this figure is a marked increase from the 35 per cent at the start of the pandemic, it still lags behind the global average of 70 per cent by a considerable margin.”
Mobile technologies and services generated around 8 per cent of GDP across Sub-Saharan Africa which amounted to almost $140 billion of economic value added, GSMA said.
“The mobile ecosystem also supported more than 3.2 million jobs (directly and indirectly) and made a substantial contribution to the funding of the public sector, with $16bn raised through taxes on the sector.
“By 2025, mobile’s contribution will grow by approximately $16bn (to almost $155bn), as the countries in the region increasingly benefit from the improvements in productivity and efficiency brought about by the increased take-up of mobile services.”