Internet usage has grown in Nigeria as mobile Internet subscriptions hit 159.04 million in May 2023, according to data obtained from the Nigerian Communications Commission.
This was a 6.18 per cent year-on-year increase in the number of mobile Internet subscriptions from the 149.78 million subscriptions recorded in May 2022.
During the period under review, MTN had the highest mobile Internet subscriptions with 67.97 million, Globacom had 43.70 million, Airtel had 43.25 million, and 9mobile had 4.12 million.
Internet usage in Nigeria has witnessed tremendous growth over the years, with broadband penetration growing from 20.01 per cent as of May 2017 to 48.28 per cent in May this year.
The growth in Internet usage is being fuelled by an increase in smartphone penetration in the country.
According to GSMA, there has been sustained growth in connectivity in the country. By the end of 2021, 40 per cent of adults over the age of 18 were using the mobile Internet.
Commenting on the development, the global telco association, said, “As the primary way most people access the internet in Sub-Saharan Africa, mobile is driving digital inclusion.
“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.”
Affirming the usefulness of mobile phones to Nigerians, the Chief Marketing Officer of MTN Nigeria, Adia Sowho, recently stated that smartphones had become the computer for many Nigerians today.
However, she added, “Unfortunately, the high costs of these devices have made them out of reach for many. Factors such as forex fluctuation, chipset shortages, and inflation are continuously driving up the cost of phones.”
The growth in the youth population is expected to continue to drive connectivity (Internet penetration) in Nigeria.
Also, the increase in Internet usage has been linked to the growth in smartphone ownership and a surge in the average data volume per subscription, according to Ericsson.
5G has been predicted as the next frontier for Internet usage.
Ericsson said, “5G is forecast to have the fastest growth rate in subscriptions, attributed primarily to coming from a low base. More than 10 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have launched commercial 5G networks to date, with more planned, raising the forecast for 5G subscriptions to 13 per cent of the total subscription base in 2028.”