New Telegraph

Smartphone penetration in Nigeria to hit 60% by 2025

The number of smartphone users in Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy and most populous country, is forecast to grow to more than 140 million by 2025. According to Statista, smartphone penetration is set to grow to around 60 per cent by 2025, presenting strong growth opportunities for feature phone and smartphone manufacturers alike.

Currently, estimates from different sources put the number of smartphone users in Nigeria at roughly between 25 million and 40 million. Some sources have stated that 58 per cent of telecoms subscribers in Nigeria use feature phones. “The exact number of users is hard to pin down – however, the data found shows a strong growth outlook for the Nigerian smartphone market with user numbers to at least triple within the next five to six years,” Statista stated. “The population and gross domestic product (GDP) in Nigeria were both forecast to grow steadily at an annual rate of two to three per cent until 2022. “Nigeria’s population is very young (average age of 18) and expected to grow to more than 200 million people by 2020. Concurrently, the GDP is set to reach more than $500 billion U.S. by that time. The country’s telecoms industry also stands to profit from Nigeria’s overall growth due to its contribution to the country’s GDP being steady as of 2012 (7.5 to 10 per cent of annual GDP),” it added. It noted that the dynamic growth of Nigeria’s economy and population is set to impact the development of the country’s mobile market as well. It said: “There are around 170 million mobile subscriptions in Nigeria. But currently, only around 10 to 20 per cent of the population is using a smartphone. “The majority of mobile users are still using feature phones which offer basic phone functions like voice calling and text messaging.” At present, Samsung is the leading smartphone vendor in Nigeria. Although, Chinese manufacturers like Tecno, Itel (Hong Kong), and Infinix (Hong Kong) are also holding strong positions in the market. Meanwhile, high cost and network coverage have been hindering smartphone penetration in the country. Many rural areas are not enjoying telecoms services as the lack of infrastructure remains major challenge. Large percent of the country are still unserved or underserved. Telecoms operators have attributed that to the huge investment required to extend network coverage to rural areas. According to the Nigerian Communications Commission, 2G continues to be the dominant technology in Nigeria’s mobile market with 60.32 per cent of Nigeria’s 220.36 million mobile subscriptions were on 2G network as of August 2023. It stated that 28.07 per cent of those subscriptions were on 4G; 10.78 per cent were on 3G, and 0.8percentnt were on 5G, indicating low smartphone ownership in the country, despite sustained network investments by telecommunication firms in the country. It also grew data revenue by 34.9 percent due to increased usage supported by its network expansion and smartphone penetration.

According to MTN, its 4G network now covers 80 percent of the population. Meanwhile, Airtel claimed almost 100 per cent of its sites in Nigeria currently deliver 4G. Digital technologies have exploded in the last couple of years, powered by mobile devices. Mobile has also been responsible for the exponential growth of financial services in the country. GSMA recently stated that mobile technology is the primary means of Internet access for a lot of people in low/middle-income countries, enabling access to critical information, services, education, healthcare, and income-generating opportunities. According to the President of the National Association of Telecoms Subscribers, Adeolu Ogunbanjo, affordability is a key issue with type of phone ownership. He said: “Affordability of the phone type. Many people, particularly those on the lower ladder of the economy, still use feature phones. And they form the majority. Those on the higher ladder of the economy use smartphones. The poor people can only afford 2G phones. 3G and 4G phones are for middle levels.” He noted that affordability concerns will continue to trump network coverage. He, however, stated that poor networks will also determine the type of network people can rely on.

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