There has been a 15.4 million decline of active subscriptions for mobile services across the four GSM networks in Nigeria between December 2020 and March, 2021.
This was according to the latest industry statistics released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), which revealed that active subscriptions on MTN, Globacom, Airtel and 9mobile stood at 192 million as of March end, down from 207.5 million recorded in November, 2020.
Reports say the suspension of new SIM registrations by the Federal Government led to the decline.
According to the government, the suspension, which took effect on December 9, 2020, was to allow a proper audit of the SIM registration database to ensure that all mobile lines in the country are properly registered.
Recall that the ban was, however, lifted on April 19. With the decline in mobile subscriptions, the country’s teledensity, which measures the number of active telephone connections per 100 inhabitants living within an area, also declined from 108.92 percent in November 2020, to 100.80 percent in January 2021.
According to the NCC’s industry data, all the operators recorded a decline in their subscriptions database in the four months of SIM suspension.
MTN Nigeria, which remained the largest mobile operator by the number of subscriptions in the country, lost a total of six million subscriptions between December last year and March this year. This saw its database decline to 75.9 million from 82 million it had in November 2020.
Airtel emerged as the biggest loser in the period as it lost a total of 6.8 million active subscriptions.
This brought its total subscriptions to 50.3 million from 57.2 million it had in November last year. Globacom lost 2.9 million, which brought its subscription database to 52.9 million from 55 million it recorded in November.
However, with the minimal loss compared to Airtel, Globacom was able to overtake Airtel as of March-end to become the second-largest operator in the country. 9mobile also slipped as it shed 337,676 subscriptions in the period under review.
This brought its total subscriptions to 12.8 million from 13.2 million it recorded in November last year. The lifting of the ban on new SIM registration by the government on April 19, 2021 came as a huge relief to many Nigerians, who had been cut off from telecommunications due to the ban and even the telecom operators who had consistently lost millions of subscribers over the four months.