Telecoms subscribers in Nigeria currently spend an estimated N238 billion on purchase of airtime on their phones on a monthly basis, latest investigations by New Telegraph have shown.
The estimate is based on the current average revenue per user (ARPU) benchmark of $8 (N1,593) and the current active subscriber base in the country.
According to the latest report from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the country’s telecoms market recorded 150 million active lines as at the end of September.
New Telegraph’s conservative analysis thus revealed that by multiplying the ARPU with the monthly subscriber base of 150 million, telecoms subscribers on different mobile networks in the country spend an estimated N238 billion.
Meanwhile, telecoms companies in Nigeria lost a total of 357,997 active lines on their various networks in September. From 151,018,624 active telephone lines in August, the number of active telephone lines on mostly GSM operators including MTN, Globacom, Airtel and Etisalat declined to 150,660,631 phone lines. This represents a fall of 357,997 lines, according to the latest industry status report in subscriber base.
Analysts say the reduction in subscriber base might not be unconnected with the directive by the regulator mandating telecoms networks to deactivate unregistered or poorly registered subscriber identity module (SIM) lines on the networks. In the same vein, teledensity plunged from 107.87 per cent in August to 107.61 per cent in September, representing a fall of 0.26 per cent. Telephone density or 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 Gross Domestic Product (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. From January this year, active subscribers have consistently increased from 140.8 million in January to 151 million in August.
However, the August subscriber data is the first time the operators witnessed a decrease in subscriber base, ostensibly because of the SIM deactivation saga. Month-on-month subscriber data moved up to 142.5 million in February. Of the 151 million active subscriber base, GSM operators including MTN, Globacom, Airtel and Etisalat, control 148.7 million; the CDMA segment predominantly controlled by Visafone has 2.1 million while fixed wired/wireless networks have 189, 523 lines.
President, National Association of TelecomsSubscribers (NATCOMS), Mr. Deolu Ogunbanjo, said for as long as more Nigerians continue to take up and rely on telecoms services for their daily business and personal activities, telcos would continue to increase their revenues.
Ogunbanjo explained that telecoms industry has become a critical sector, not only to the individual telecoms consumer, but also to the economy as a whole. He stated that Nigeria had recorded an astronomical uptake in telephone subscriptions, both in the urban and rural areas in the last 14 years of telecoms deregulation.
He said: “This is revealing. However, your findings may be plus or minus, but I think it provides us with an idea of how much telecoms subscribers in Nigeria spend on their respective service providers monthly.” “The expenditure by subscribers has even reduced drastically in the last 14 years of telecoms regulation,” said President, Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators(ALTON), Mr. Gbenga Adebayo.
“You will recall that, in this country, we have made calls for close to N100 and today, we are witnessing a decrease in tariffs where we make calls for just about N10 or below per minute.”