Mobile subscription growth rebounded in July, after four consecutive months of falling, to 220.54 million.

This was as the contribution of the telecommunications sector to the Gross Domestic Product rose to N5.35tn in the first two quarters of 2023.

Since March, mobile subscriptions have been on a free fall after hitting an all-time high of 226.84 million in February based on data obtained from the Nigerian Communications Commission.

In March, subscriptions fell for the first time in the year to 225.82 million and dipped to 223.34 million in the following month.

It further declined to 220.93 million in May and 219.77 million in June.

According to MTN Nigeria, the telco that lost the most subscriptions between March and June, increasing the minimum age requirement for SIM registration from 16 to 18, following a new NCC directive, affected its active subscriber base.

It said, “In Q2, we implemented the minimum age requirement for SIM registration from 16 to 18 years, which impacted the run rate of gross connections and active data subscribers in the quarter.”

In July, MTN grew its subscription base by 678,008 to 85.34 million; Globacom grew by 23,565 to 61.36 million; 9mobile also grew by 176,105 to 13.76 million. Airtel was the only one to lose mobile subscriptions, declining by 106,789 to 60.08 million.

Teledensity, the number of active telephone connections per 100 inhabitants living within an area, also grew for the first time since February to 115.70 per cent.

According to data from the NCC, mobile Internet subscriptions also recorded a slight comeback, with subscriptions climbing to 158.98 million from 158.95 million.

Broadband subscriptions remained stable at 47.01 per cent in the month of July after falling from its all-time high of 48.49 per cent in February.

Recently, the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, noted, “Nigeria is a telecommunications powerhouse, accounting for 82 per cent of the continent’s telecom subscribers and 29 per cent of the continent’s internet consumption.

“Our country ranks eleventh in the world for internet penetration and seventh in mobile phone usage. The NRI team’s global data shows that digital transformation is a global imperative for maximising the social and economic effects of the digital era.”

Meanwhile, the telecoms sector contributed N5.35tn to the country’s real GDP in the first six months of 2023 amid challenging macroeconomic conditions.

This was as the country’s GDP growth slowed to 2.51 per cent in the second quarter of 2023.

The National Bureau of Statistics stated, “This growth rate is lower than the 3.54 per cent recorded in the second quarter of 2022 and may be attributed to the challenging economic conditions being experienced. The performance of the GDP in the second quarter of 2023 was driven mainly by the services sector, which recorded a growth rate of 4.42 per cent and contributed 58.42 per cent to the aggregate GDP.”

As one of the largest contributors to the service sector, the World Bank recently noted that telecoms have contributed immensely to the growth of the country’s GDP.

In its ‘Nigeria Development Update (June 2023): Seizing The Opportunity’ report, the bank said, “Strong growth in telecommunications and financial services supported a 4.3 per cent y-o-y increase in service output in Q1 2023.

“The information and communications technology sector, which did not contract even during the 2020 recession, expanding by 10.3 per cent y-o-y due to increased consumption of data services by households and businesses and higher subscriber numbers.”

On its part, the NCC believes 5G has been one of the major contributors to the telecoms sector’s growth in 2023.

Highlighting the importance of the sector recently, Danbatta stated, “Without any doubt, the Nigerian telecoms sector is amongst the biggest contributors to the socio-economic growth of the country, as evidenced by the numerous achievements of the sector.”

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