1.5m new phone users spike active mobile subscriptions in August
…GSMA renews calls for digital divide action
Some 1.5 million new subscribers were added to the country’s network in August, increasing the number of active subscriptions from 187.8 million in July to 189.3 million a month after.
August subscription statistics released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) showed that the new additions to the networks deepened the country’s teledensity by 0.79 per cent with penetration rising from 98.39 per cent in July to 99.18 per cent a month after.
Teledensity is the number of telephone connections for every hundred individuals living within an area. It varies widely across the nations and also between urban and rural areas within a country. Telephone density has significant correlation with the per capita GDP of the area. It is also used as an indicator of the purchasing power of the middle class of the country or specific region.
The August increase in subscriptions is a gradual departure from the losses recorded by the operators in the last eight months.
Checks showed that operators lost about 10 million subscribers following the Federal Government-imposed ban on activation of new Subscriber Identification Modules (SIM) cards for about 115 days and compulsory NIN-SIM linkage exercise. The ban on sale and activation of new SIM cards was lifted on April 21.
Further analysis of the statistics showed that unlike the previous month (July), which showed a drop in Internet users, the August statistics showed that service providers across all the technology platforms, increased online users by adding 841,418 new subscribers.
The NCC statistics showed that MTN and 9mobile lost 412,587 and 115,416 Internet users, while Airtel added 560,760 users and Globacom 453,109.
Broadband penetration rose by 1.21 per cent in the period under review, moving from 39.79 per cent to 41 per cent in the period under review. This penetration added 2.3 million users to the broadband space, with the figure moving from 75.9 million to 78.3 million.
MEANWHILE, industry association, the GSMA kept up pressure for action to address a global digital divide despite revealing the proportion of mobile Internet users broke through the 50 per cent mark for the first time during 2020.
In its newly released State of Mobile Internet Connectivity 2021 report, the GSMA estimated 51 per cent used mobile Internet in 2020 compared with 49 per cent in 2019. But, while hailing the achievement, it noted 3.8 billion still lacked access, despite the majority (3.4 billion) living in areas with suitable coverage.
It noted in a statement this so-called usage gap is a “far bigger challenge” than coverage alone, citing factors including a lack of digital literacy and skills, and device costs as barriers to use.
GSMA Chief Regulatory Officer, John Giusti, explained: “Mobile is the primary and often the only way to access the Internet in low- and middle-income countries. While more people than ever are now using the mobile Internet, some fundamental barriers stop far too many people from using.”
He called for “targeted and collaborative action” by governments and the industry to bridge the digital divide.
The GSMA also released a report covering sub-Saharan Africa that found 495 million people subscribed to mobile services by the end of 2020, up by almost 20 million in 2019.
Adoption of 4G recorded an uptake while 3G growth was slowing rapidly.
The GSMA called for governments and regulators to ensure there is enough spectrum for mobile services and to open mid-band frequencies for future rollouts of 5G.