New data from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) shows that the country recorded a drop in broadband penetration, active internet subscriptions, teledensity, and a few other industry segments.
In June 2023, Nigeria’s broadband penetration dropped from 92,169,176 subscriptions (48.28%) to 89,730,341 subscriptions (47.01%, representing a difference of 1.27%. It’s worth noting that this is the lowest the broadband access has been since November 2022 (88,273.293 subscriptions/46.24%).
The NCC also reports 159,498,826 active internet subscriptions across GSM, CDMA, Fixed (Wireless), ISPs, and VoIP channels. This is a minor decline in the numbers considering that the country registered 159,598,451 subscriptions in May 2023.
Here’s a breakdown of the figures. GSM had 158,944,660 subscribers, CDMA had zero, Fixed (Wireless) registered 16,897 users, ISPs had 208,612, and VOIP had 328,657.
Similarly, the teledensity/subscriber data for June 2023 indicated a drop from 221,258,372 (115.91%) to 220,086,951 (115.30%). Based on the above figures, there’s a difference of 0.61%.
MTN still leads the pack
Despite losing 2.5 million clients in April 2023 and 1 million+ subscribers in May 2023 respectively, the telecom company remained number 1 according to NCC data. As of June 2023, MTN Nigeria owned 38.52% (84,663,653 customers) of the market share.
Glo placed second (27.91%/61,333,528 users) followed closely by Airtel (27.39%/60,190,732 subscribers). 9mobile sat in last place with a market share of just 6.18% (13,578,431 subscribers).
Meanwhile, Smile, a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) operator, lost 5,854 users between May 2023 (228,777) and June 2023 (222,923). Fellow VoIP operator NTEL also lost customers (1,066 in May to 878 in June). In total, Nigeria had 223,801 VoIP subscribers in June 2023.
Why Nigeria’s broadband remains low
According to this document, Nigeria has the biggest mobile telecoms market. But then, the efforts of both government and internet service providers have yet to show meaningful results in terms of broadband access.
Recall that former president Muhammadu Buhari wrongly claimed that Nigeria’s broadband penetration had reached 100% following the deployment of Starlink, a SpaceX product.
However, the country’s broadband access has never exceeded 48.28% (May 2023). While internet coverage has improved, particularly with MTN’s launch ( and deployment) of 5G internet services and, recently, Airtel, penetration is still some way behind the goal.
The NCC report didn’t give reasons for the drop in broadband usage, but it is worth noting that a handful of factors stand in the way. For one, affordability prevents millions of Nigerians from subscribing to a broadband package.
With a growing unemployment rate and recent unpopular policies like the removal of petrol subsidies, buying data plans is increasingly difficult. Corroborating the claim, this article found that Nigerians still pay more for sub-standard internet. Still, on the affordability issue, another report said the world’s most expensive and cheapest broadband packages are found in Africa.
To tackle this issue, the government should consider lowering taxes on telcos. To bear the cost of taxes, telcos typically pass on the brunt to consumers through increased data costs. By reviewing their taxation scheme, more Nigerians could afford the packages.
The government should also collaborate with the private sector to improve the telecom infrastructure. The Nigerian National Broadband Plan (2020-2025) seeks to raise the nation’s broadband penetration to at least 90% by 2025. Given the current state, much more must be done before achieving that goal.