NCC
Nigerian Communications Commission's Building

Mobile Internet users in Nigeria increased marginally to 113.9 million in January 2019, data from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has revealed.

The latest report shows that while MTN Nigeria continues to lead with the highest number of internet subscribers, the same cannot be said for its main competitor — Globacom Nigeria.

The information is contained in the NCC’s Monthly Internet Subscribers Data for January, as published on the Commission’s website.

Basic Highlights

  • Total mobile internet subscribers as at January 2019 is 113.8 million, compared to 100.2 million in the corresponding month of 2018.
  • The increase in mobile internet subscribers represents a 2.01% year on year between January 2018 and 2019.
  • Mobile internet subscribers grew by 13.61% between January 2018 and 2019. In January 2018, subscribers stood at 100.2 million while it increased to 113 million in the corresponding month of 2019.
  • MTN witnessed the highest growth of 23.47% in mobile internet users between January 2018 and 2019.
  • 9mobile witnessed a negative growth of 12.37% in mobile internet subscribers for the period under review.

MTN tops the list of Internet subscribers in growth terms

According to the data, MTN recorded the highest number of mobile internet subscribers in January. It recorded 45.9 million, as against the 43.9 million December 2018. This represents a 4.63% growth rate between December 2018 and January 2019.

Year on year, the company’s mobile internet subscribers grew at the rate of 23.47% between January 2018 and January 2019.

Similarly, Airtel ranks 2nd of highest mobile internet subscriber in Nigeria. As at January 2019, Airtel has 30.5 million mobile internet subscribers. The figure means a meagre increase in Airtel subscribers in January as against 29.8 million in December 2018. This represents a 2.36% month on month growth, while Airtel recorded 22.69% growth in Mobile internet subscribers between January 2018 to 2019.

Boost for Nigeria's economy as Mobile Internet Subscribers hit 113.9m

9mobile and Glo witnessed decline in subscribers

9mobile witnessed a major decline in the number of its subscribers. In January 2019, the 9mobile internet subscribers decreased marginally to 9.8 million as against 9.9 million in December 2018. Also, between January 2018 and 2019, 9mobile internet subscribers declined by 12.37%. The number of 9mobile internet subscribers declined from 11.3 million in January 2019 to 9.8 million in January 2019.

The NCC data also revealed that mobile internet subscribers of Globacom decreased marginally by 1.62% between January 2019 and December 2019. In January 2019, Globacom mobile internet subscribers decreased to 27.6 million compared to 28 million as of December 2018. However, Globacom witnessed a 2.5% growth in internet subscribers between January 2019 and 2018. The number of mobile internet users increased to 27.6 million in January 2019 as against as against 26.9 million.

How does this affect the economy?

The role of the Internet in the economy cannot be overemphasized. Oxford Economics reported that internet usage will boost global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with $58.1 billion by 2020. In the same vein, The World Bank believes that the internet promotes economic development through its provision of access to opportunities that were previously out of reach for most disadvantaged people in the world.

Everyday, more people continue to tap into these opportunities by connecting to the internet. According to a research by UK’s Imperial College Business School, global mobile broadband connections have increased from approximately 27,000 in 2001 to 4.1 billion in 2016 . This is indicative of an average growth rate of 122% per year.

Meanwhile, in Nigeria the 2018 GDP shows that in terms of contribution to GDP, Information and communication contributes 12.22% to GDP. Therefore, the more the subscription rate, the higher chances for the ICT sector to contribute more to the country’s GDP.

A Level Playing Field for SMEs

Access to the internet access avails small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) immense opportunities and useful information. For instance, Nigerian small business owners can easily access the global marketplace with the internet. As such, it is easier for companies to compete in the global marketplace without being physically present in those countries.

Revenue for Service Providers and opportunities for investors

The increase in mobile internet subscribers suggests an increase in revenue for service providers like MTN and Airtel for the year under review. By extension, this may lead to an increase in employment opportunities.

To foreign investors, the increase in mobile internet users is an incentive to invest in the information and communication sector of the Nigerian economy.

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