Mobile subscriptions for Nigeria’s telecommunications sector experienced a decline for the first time in nearly two years, according to the latest industry statistics released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). The data revealed that subscriptions for mobile services in Nigeria dropped by 0.4% to 225.8 million in March 2023.

The figures indicate that the country’s major telecom operators, including MTN, Glo, Airtel, and 9mobile, collectively lost approximately 1 million subscriptions in March. Prior to this decline, mobile subscriptions had been consistently growing since June 2021. As of February, active subscriptions across these networks amounted to 226.8 million.

While there was a decrease in the total number of mobile subscriptions from 226.84 million in February 2023 to 225.82 million in March 2023, the NCC data showed an overall increase of 3.59 million subscriptions compared to the 222.23 million recorded in December 2022.

MTN, still maintaining its position as the largest telecom provider, reported a slight decline in subscribers from 91.71 million in February to 91.55 million. Conversely, other telecom providers experienced an increase in their customer base.

Globacom secured the second spot with 60.79 million mobile subscriptions, followed closely by Airtel with 60.33 million and 9mobile with 13.14 million. On a year-on-year basis, a notable surge in mobile subscriptions was observed, rising from 199.20 million in March 2022 to 225.84 million in March 2023.

Meanwhile, teledensity, which measures the number of active telephone connections per 100 inhabitants, dropped from 119.01 percent in February to 118.48 percent in March. Mobile internet subscriptions, on the other hand, experienced growth, reaching 156.98 million. The broadband penetration rate rose to 53.50 percent, although subscriptions declined to 92.03 million.

Telecommunication companies have attributed this slight decline to factors such as high inflation rates, petrol shortages, and cash constraints during the reviewed period.

As the Nigerian telecom sector navigates this unexpected decline, industry stakeholders are closely monitoring the trends and assessing strategies to bolster growth and regain momentum in the ever-evolving telecommunications landscape.