…states account for 33% of total loss
The downturn in the telecommunications sector mostly affected three states of the federation – Kano, Lagos and Ogun, as they lost a total of four million active mobile subscriptions between January and March this year. The three states accounted for 33 per cent of the total voice subscription loss across the country within the period. According to the telecommunications data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the country lost a total of 12 million voice subscriptions in the first quarter.
The decline in the country’s mobile users, which started in December 2020 and extended until April, according to data from Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has been attributed to government’s ban on new registration of SIMs and the difficulty in retrieving lost or damaged SIMs.
Kano State topped the list of states that recorded a huge decline in active mobile subscription as voice connectivity in the state declined by 1.7 million. This was followed by Lagos State, which lost 1.6 million sub-scriptions within the period under review.
Ogun State also shed 699,802 subscriptions to emerge as the third highest losing state. In terms of internet connectivity, the three states also lost a total of three million internet connections within the period. While Kano and Lagos lost 1.3 million internet connections apiece, Ogun recorded 398,895 decline in internet users. However, despite the loss, Lagos maintained the top spot as the state with the highest number of mobile subscriptions in the country. According to the NBS report, active mobile subscriptions in the state stood at 23.2 million as of March-end.
Ogun State overtook Kano to emerge as the second-highest in terms of telecom subscriptions. The state’s active mobile users stood at 11.3 million, while Kano stood in the third position with 10.9 million active subscriptions. Amidst the general decline in mobile subscriptions across the country, four states recorded a slight increase in connectivity within the period. Kogi State recorded the highest increase in subscriptions as its connectivity figure rose from 3.9 million in Q4’20 to 4.05 million in Q1’21. This represents a 3.74 per cent increase.
Osun State also recorded a 0.82 per cent increase as its active subscriptions rose from 4.6 million in the previous quarter to 4.7 million in Q1’21. Mobile subscriptions in Ondo State also increased from 4.4 million in Q4’20 to 4.5 million in Q1’21, while 0.64 per cent increase from 5.02 million to 5.06 million active subscriptions.. Meanwhile, the NBS data revealed that Bayelsa, Ebonyi, and Ekiti states had the least telecom subscriptions in the country for the period under review. While Bayelsa’s total telecom subscriptions standing at 1.4 million as of March, Ebonyi and Ekiti recorded 1.7 million and 1.8 million respectively.
The population of the three states, according to the NBS statistics, stood at 2.2 million, 2.8 million and 3.2 million, in that order. In terms of internet subscriptions, Bayelsa State also had the least connectivity in the country as it recorded 1.05 million active users at the end of the quarter. The number of Internet users in Ebonyi and Ekiti states stood at 1.2 million and 1.4 million respectively. Further analysis of the states’ subscriptions showed that telecommunications connectivity is higher in the cosmopolitan states, a development that has seen stakeholders in the sector clamouring for the extension of telecommunications infrastructure to all parts of the country.
According to the immediate past President of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Mr. Olusola Teniola, there are about 225 communities in Nigeria that are yet to receive or make a voice. While calling for more investments in infrastructure to extend telecom coverage across the country, Teniola said there are about 20 million Nigerians without access to the internet. Similarly, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, recently disclosed that about 40 million are still being deprived of access to telecommunications services due to over 200 access gaps recorded in the information and communication technology industry. Speaking at a recent forum, Danbatta had called for urgent actions to bridge these gaps.
He said: “In Nigeria, we have more than 200 access gaps. We know where these gaps are and you won’t believe this, but these access gaps deprive Nigerians, close to 40 million of them, access to telecoms services. “When we talk about policies that need to be put in place to improve internet services, we need to look at what we can do to fast track plugging these access gaps because unless we do something, many of our citizens would continue to live without access to the internet, especially the right kind of internet connectivity, the high-speed internet, which must be facilitated by broadband infrastructure.”
Danbatta maintained that the infrastructure that is necessary to facilitate access to the internet must be available, noting, however, that the Federal Government had started the process and had already divided the country into seven zones, with each zone having a licensee to deploy broadband infrastructure.