Nigeria’s mobile subscriptions declined by 2.4 million in May

ACTIVE online subscriptions for mobile telecommunications services in Nigeria has declined to its lowest level in three months, according to latest data from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

According to figures on NCC website, the number of mobile subscribers available in May 2023 reduced by about 2.4 million when compared to the number recorded in April 2023.

The NCC data reveals that the country has now lost 5.9 million mobile subscriptions since February 2023, when it recorded the highest ever number – 226.8 million.

This figure fell to 225.8 million active mobile subscribers in March 2023, and then 223.3 million in April 2023.

In May 2023, NCC recorded 220.93 million subscribers, meaning that the country witnessed the third consecutive fall in total mobile subscriptions since February 2023.

The decline in the subscriptions cannot be disconnected from the discontinuation of SIM cards that have not been linked with the National Identification Number (NIN), as mandated by the government in December 2020.

In the same vein, MTN Nigeria’s active users dropped by around a million in March, 2023, according to a report by Technext.

In the first quarter of 2023 report, the CEO of MTN Nigeria Karl Toriola noted that the telecommunications company experienced the negative impact of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) naira redesign policy.

Toriola explained that the scarcity of naira notes resulting from the policy made it challenging for MTN customers who lacked digital access to purchase physical airtime vouchers.

“The limited availability of the new notes resulted in cash shortages, which impacted our customers’ ability to recharge through physical airtime vouchers (affecting mostly customers who did not have access to digital recharge channels) and over-the-counter (OTC) transactions within our MoMo agent network.

“The cash shortages affected the broader macro-economy, with a consequent significant impact on the private sector,” Toriola said.

Meanwhile, with the decline in actively connected lines recorded by the operators, the country’s teledensity also moved to 115.91 per cent in May from 117.17 per cent recorded in April.

The NCC recorded 199.01 per cent in February during the highest recorded rate and 118.48 per cent in March.

Teledensity, according to NCC, is the number of active telephone connections per one hundred (100) inhabitants living within an area and is expressed as a percentage figure.



    Also, the Commission put the number of annual active online subscriptions at  222,225,300 and 195,138,265 for the year 2022 and 2021 respectively. 

    Speaking on the recent decline in the number of active mobile subscribers, a telecommunications expert, Stanley Olaleke said market inflation and the Japa syndrome contributed to the development.

    He added that the cash crunch and the compulsory linking of National Identity Number (NIN) to SIM cards also had an impact in the decline recorded since February.

    “Most people use data for calls now because it’s cheaper and would not bother recharging their second SIM cards. For instance, it has been a long time since I personally recharged my other SIM card,” he noted.

    Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: [email protected]. He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M

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