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Airtel loses over 100,000 subscribers in one month, as Glo chases MTN’s market share

Airtel lost over 100,000 subscribers in Nigeria between December 2019 and January 2020. While Airtel Nigeria’s subscribers declined,



Airtel partners Western Union to expand its own mobile money service , Airtel loses over 100,000 subscribers in one month as Glo chases MTN's market share cvf

Despite massive media campaigns over the last few months, Airtel lost more than 100,000 subscribers in Nigeria between December 2019 and January 2020.

But while Airtel Nigeria’s subscriber base declined, it’s rivals –MTN Nigeria and Globacom–recorded growth in their total number of their respective active subscribers.

Based on the performance indicators for January, it appears that Airtel’s strategy of using top Nollywood actors in its numerous commercials have failed to appeal to market audiences.

(READ MORE: Airtel Africa receives NCC approval to acquire 10 MHz spectrum for $94 million)

Losers in the telco market

According to the telephone service report which was recently released by Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Airtel Nigeria accounted for 49.9 million subscribers in January 2020, a slight decline compared to the 50.1 million it had in December last year.


Note that Airtel and Globacom have recently been on each others’ jugulars, vying for market share in a bid to occupy the number two position in the Nigerian telecoms industry. But now that Globacom has finally pulled ahead of Airtel, the question remains about how long it can manage to maintain the number two position right behind MTN Nigeria.

In the meantime, 9mobile continues to struggle. The company, which was formerly known as Etisalat, has been losing its subscribers since a recent change in ownership led to a brand name change.

Based on the latest report by the NCC, 9mbile is now the highest loser, with its subscriber base declining by over 484,000 in January alone.

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Regulation forces Airtel Africa to initiate shares listing in Malawi , Airtel loses over 100,000 subscribers in one month as Glo chases MTN's market share cvf

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Prior to January 2020, 9mobile had 13.6 million subscribers in December. That number now stands at 13.1 million. The last time the network provider surpassed 15 million active subscribers was in May last year.

The gainers of the telco market

The NCC report showed that Globacom’s subscriber based increased by 55,509 to hit 51.75 million in January, up from 51.70 million in December 2019. It is believed that the surge in Globacom’s subscribers has been its aggressive marketing which has helped it to secure 27.85% of the market share.

Just like Airtel Nigeria, the Mike Adenuga-owned company has been using top celebrities to push for market share. Luckily for Globacom, the expensive media budget has been reflective on its subscriber base. Unfortunately, the same cannot quite be said for Airtel Nigeria which holds 26.92% of the market.

(READ MORE: Data War: MTN gains 8.18 million subscribers, as Airtel edges Glo, 9mobile in 2019)

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On its part, MTN Nigeria has continued  to maintain its position as the leader in the Nigerian telecoms industry. The company was the biggest gainer in the month of January, having added 1.93 million subscribers to its already existing 68.7 million subscribers as of December. This has, therefore, increased MTN’s total active subscribers to 70.6 million in January 2020.

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This means the Y’ellow firm account for 38.06% of the market share. Altogether, the industry recorded an increase from 184.4 million telephone subscribers in December to 185.7 million subscribers in January 2020.

Data war changes the status quo

While Globacom is ahead of Airtel Nigeria in total subscribers, Airtel Nigeria is second highest in terms of data; right behind MTN Nigeria. Airtel Nigeria’s data subscribers increased to 35.5 million in January from 34.5 million.

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Globacom was behind with 29.2 million subscribers , although this is an increase compared to the 28.9 million it recorded in December 2019.
The difference between Airtel and Globacom in the total number of data subscriber is network service for browsing.Globacom users have often complained about poor network service.

In the data war, MTN Nigeria held no punches in its bid to dominate the market. The company continues to lead in both total active subscribers and data subscribers. MTN Nigeria’s subscribers increased to 55 million in January from 54 million in. December.

But while MTN Nigeria, Airtel Nigeria, and Globacom experienced a surge in their subscriber base, 9mobile keep declining. The company’s total data subscriber base dropped from 8.06 million in December to 8.04 million in January. 

Olalekan is a certified media practitioner from the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ). In the era of media convergence, Olalekan is a valuable asset, with ability to curate and broadcast news. His zeal to write was developed out of passion to shape people’s thought and opinion; serving as a guideline for their daily lives. Contact for tips: [email protected]



  1. Anonymous

    April 4, 2020 at 7:30 am

    Airtel declined performance is as a result of poor resolution of Customers complaints. I have a complaint on my Mifi data denial of 5G data issue pending with airtel since March 2020 with no resolution or feedback despite calling several times. Please revisit your timelines for resolution if 18 or 24 hours in your policy is not working again.

    • Anonymous

      April 4, 2020 at 3:27 pm

      Not just that bro. Bad network services too

      • Anonymous

        April 5, 2020 at 10:05 pm

        Airtel services are pathetic mtn is the best always.

  2. Anonymous

    April 4, 2020 at 3:24 pm

    Airtel will still continue to lose customers if their services in all areas is poor. It’s not about marketing but services.
    If you sell sour soup to your customers today, will they come tomorrow?

  3. Anonymous

    April 4, 2020 at 4:48 pm

    I stop subscribing to Airtel because of their rate of data consumption, it like water running of of pipe… You can’t imagine using 4gb between the space of three days compare to Glo that will give u good data with low consumption… So, they just have to work on their network…

  4. Anonymous

    April 4, 2020 at 5:57 pm

    Airtel can consume data like tomorrow no dey.
    You will call the customer care and nothing will be done on it,
    I have to abandon my router mifi because of this 4Gb data within 2 days.

  5. Anonymous

    April 4, 2020 at 10:53 pm

    Airtel sucks.
    One of the biggest problem you have is in your network coverage both in urban and rural settlements. Try and resolve it.

  6. Anonymous

    April 5, 2020 at 2:04 am

    Airtel can consume data
    No bonus

  7. Anonymous

    April 5, 2020 at 6:30 am

    Yes airtel was my favorite but now I truly don’t know which way to follow..9mobile zero..glo gives out huge data but no network maybe am switching on to MTN

    • Anonymous

      April 5, 2020 at 3:17 pm

      My sentiments exactly

  8. Anonymous

    April 5, 2020 at 6:35 am

    Yes airtel was my favorite but now I truly don’t know which way to follow..9mobile zero..glo gives out huge data but no network maybe am switching on to MTN

  9. DonRapheal

    April 5, 2020 at 7:30 am

    Airtel network coverage is bad..that’s why I will leave them ..I can’t make clear call conversations

  10. Anonymous

    April 5, 2020 at 9:07 am

    Nonsense.. Airtel should pack up and go.. They have not even cross and they burn their bridge…. Greedy set of company… Poor and weak ideas and management..
    I dumped my sim card 7months ago…

  11. Emmanuel

    April 5, 2020 at 12:25 pm

    I think Airtel needs to brace up to keep up. Resolving customers’ complaints is a big issue. I stopped recharging my airtel line for the purposes of making calls and sending sms because of deductions I couldn’t get explanation for despite having an active data subscription. After complaining for over a year without any correction, I stopped recharging the line but retains same for data services only.
    Just recently, the data service went off between the evening of 1st April and the morning of 2nd April without any prior notice nor any apology for the lengthy disruption. This is rather rude and contemptuous! Airtel needs to shape up lest it loses more valuable customers.

  12. Light

    April 5, 2020 at 1:00 pm

    Nonsense, Several complaints about data disapearing as soon as you subscribe, imagine buying data 2am and waking up 6am to 0 MB without even using your phone and all updates turned off…then you try to reach their customer care they connect you to useless self service that never solves anything…eventually you never get to talk to an agent. Why worry much when there are other service providers…simply switch…By the way who cares about using celebrities as ambassadors…what has that got to do with airtel giving people value for their money, or data I spent my hard earn money to buy that disappears…or are the celebrities paying
    Anyone’s phone bills🙄

  13. Tman

    April 5, 2020 at 3:38 pm

    Airtel data suck too much

  14. Aitolu

    April 5, 2020 at 3:48 pm

    I’ve been experiencing really bad internet as of late with Airtel… I can’t even play a 20 minute battle royale match in PUBG mobile or call of duty without ping spiking as high and 968ms and 199ms respectively. Sometimes, they even refuse to go down resulting to loss of points. Even YouTube buffers at 360p resolution.
    I’m sick of it. After I exhaust my data on it. I’m changing the network.

  15. Aginam chukwudi

    April 5, 2020 at 5:01 pm

    For my side Airtel don’t have network them don’t care to know. MTN busy putting network every where even inside Bush

  16. Anonymous

    April 6, 2020 at 1:04 am

    They should at least improve their Network service in some areas like ajuwan their Network is really bad over there

  17. Idris

    April 6, 2020 at 1:50 am

    Then they should have the issue fixed after all noting can stay permanent for long

  18. Anonymous

    April 6, 2020 at 8:45 am

    Airtel has poor network coverage, data consumption is outrageous and they don’t even give bonuses. They’ll continue to fall.

  19. Benedict

    April 6, 2020 at 10:16 am

    It’s erroneous is my opinion to conclude that promotional campaigns are the reasons for subscriber gains or losses. I happen to prefer Airtel’s offering. However, I lost. SIM card and when I went to retrieve it, I was told that the Airtel customer centre did not have network. Imagine. I had to buy a new line. Then when that one went missing, I got the same story. I can’t be changing lines like clothes.

    Airtel’s service centres need to fess up to the responsibility. Airtel’s commercials are far superior to Glo’s. As is the speed of data transfer. But poor customer service is poor for business.

  20. Dale

    April 7, 2020 at 11:20 am

    Airtel losing customers? Did the corporate body say it.
    When officials of NCC are denied free airtime and data, they downgrade.
    For most who complained about data consumption by Airtel or MTN or whatever.
    4GB in two days or in a day, Let they admit, the watch porn

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Economy & Politics

Nigerian government spends equivalent of 83% of revenue to service debt in 2020

The Federal Government of Nigeria achieved a debt service to revenue ratio of 83% in 2020.



The Federal Government of Nigeria achieved a debt service to revenue ratio of 83% in 2020. This is according to the information contained in the budget implementation report of the government for the year ended December 2020.

According to the data seen by Nairametrics, total revenue earned in 2020 was N3.93 trillion representing a 27% drop from the target revenues of N5.365 trillion. However, debt service for the year was a sum of N3.26 trillion or 82.9% of revenue.

Nigeria’s debt service cost of N3.26 trillion has now dwarfed the N1.7 trillion spent on capital expenditure of N1.7 trillion incurred in 2020. This is also the highest debt service paid by the Federal Government since we started tracking this data in 2009.

The total public debt (External and Domestic) balance carried by Nigeria as of September 2020 stood at N32.22 trillion ($84.57 billion). Included in the total debt is a domestic debt of about N15.8 trillion.



What this means: Nigeria’s debt to GDP ratio is estimated at about 22%, one of the lowest in the world and much below what is obtainable in most emerging markets.

  • However, the challenge has always been the debt service to revenue ratio, a metric that reveals whether the government is generating enough revenues to pay down its debts as they mature.
  • Since the first recession experienced in 2016, Nigeria has struggled with higher debt service to revenue ratio as revenues slid in direct correlation with the fall in oil prices.
  • Nigeria’s government spent about N2.45 trillion in debt service in 2019 out of total revenue of N4.1 trillion or 59.6% debt service to revenue ratio.
  • At 83%, 2020 ranks as the highest debt service to revenue ratio we have incurred. Before now it was 2017 with 61.6%.

Breakdown of what debts were serviced

The following amount was spent on debt service during the year

  • To service domestic debt, the government spent N1.755 trillion in 2020 as against a budget of N1.87 trillion.
  • For foreign debts, a sum of N553 billion was spent against a target budget of N805.47 billion. The drop here is likely a result of lower interest rates on foreign borrowing as well as very limited borrowing from the foreign debt market during the year.
  • The government only contributed N4.58 billion into its sinking fund instead of the budgeted N272.9 billion.
  • The sinking fund is required to set aside funds that will be used to pay down on other loans such as bonds when they mature in the future.
  • Finally, a sum of N912.57 trillion was spent on servicing CBN’s loans, granted via its Ways and Means provisions.
  • Nairametrics reported last week that a total sum of N2.8 trillion was extended by the CBN to the FG as Ways and Means.

What happens next: In 2021, the government projects a debt service of N3.1 trillion against revenue of N6.6 trillion or a debt service to revenue ratio of 46.9%.

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  • The government plans to spend N4.3 trillion on capital expenditure during the year.



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Tech News

Top 10 African tech companies and capital raised in 2020

These are the top 10 tech companies and the capital they raised in 2020.



Startup funding in Africa, Fintech, Disrupt Africa

African startups raised over $1 billion in funding in 2020, with Nigerian startups raising 17% of this amount – 55.37million in Q1 2o2o and 28.35million in Q2 2020, according to Techpoint.

These are the top 10 rankings of the highest fundraisers for 2020.


The startup provides digital payments infrastructure and services which enable global merchants, payment service providers, and pan-African banks to accept and process payments across various channels.

It raised a $35M Series-B round led by US venture capital firms Greycroft and eVentures in January 2020. The funding was invested in technology and business development to grow market share in the countries it operates in.


The startup offers cross-border P2P payments services across 7 African countries. It raised $30m in a Series B funding round in November 2020 led by Ribbit Capital, an American based VC firm that invests in early-stage startups.


The funding was used to improve its products to include API payments solutions, crypto-currency trading options, and investment services and also expand its markets.


The startup is equalizing precision medicine by including underrepresented Africans in global genomics research. It raised $15M in a Series A funding round in April 2020 led by Adjuvant Capital – a life sciences fund backed by the International Finance Corporation, Novartis, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

These new funds will be used to address the gap that exists in precision medicine for people on the African continent.

Aella Credit

The startup is a one-stop app for all your financial needs. Aella makes it super easy for anyone to borrow, invest, and make payments. It secured a $10 million debt financing round from a Singaporean company – HQ Financial Group.

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The new capital raised from Singapore is expected to facilitate the credit company’s effort to provide financial inclusion to many more of the people who are currently unbanked across Nigeria, West Africa, and other emerging markets.

Helium Health

The startup has become the leading provider of full-service technology solutions for healthcare stakeholders in Africa. It raised a $10 million Series A round in April 2020.

Global Ventures and Africa Healthcare Master fund (AAIC) co-led the investment round. Helium plans to use the latest funding round to hire and expand to North and East Africa, including Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, and Morocco.

Kuda Bank

The startup provides a full banking service on your smartphone. It secured a US$10 million seed round in November 2020 – the biggest seed round ever to be raised in Africa, led by Target Global with participation from Entrée Capital and SBI Investment.

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The funding will be used to help accelerate its growth plans and keep up with customer demand. Specifically, funds will be used for key hires, product development, and to expand operations across Africa.

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Trade Depot

The startup is a Nigerian B2B eCommerce company that utilizes an end-to-end distribution platform aimed at connecting the world’s top consumer goods companies directly to retailers in Africa.

It raised $10-million in a pre-Series B equity round co-led by Partech, International Finance Corporation, Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi), and MSA Capital in July 2020.

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The new investment will enable Trade Depot to continue connecting international brands with small businesses in Nigeria, expand into other African cities, launch a suite of financial products, and credit facilities aimed at supporting its retailers.

Field Intelligence

The startup is helping governments and businesses make good on the promise of healthcare in the fastest-growing parts of the world by making the pharmaceutical supply chain radically simple, affordable, and easily accessible.

It raised a $3.6 million Series A round in March 2020, led by Blue Haven Initiative, with investors including Newtown Partners via the Imperial Venture Fund and Accion Venture Lab.

The investment will be used to scale Shelf Life expansion throughout Nigeria and Kenya, as well as the development of additional services for Shelf Life clients and their patients.


The startup connects suppliers to hospitals and pharmacies directly to make the pharmaceutical supply chain more efficient. The health start-up raised $3.5M in a seed funding round in December 2020.  It will use this funding to expand to other African countries.

Auto Chek

the company is an automotive technology company that aims to build solutions for the African market. It raised $3.4 million in pre-seed funding round in November 2020, co-led by TLcom Capital and 4DX with inclusion from Golden Palm Investments, Lateral Capital, Kepple Africa Ventures.

Autoochek will use the investment to grow its Nigerian and Ghanaian markets, invest in its tech, and grow its team.


Despite the ravaging impact of Covid-19, Nigerian tech start-ups raised millions of dollars in funding. We hope to see more investors in the first quarter of 2021.

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Economy & Politics

FG receives N144 billion in dividends from NLNG in 2020

NLNG, paid the Federal Government a dividend of N188 billion in the fiscal year ended December 2020.




Nigeria Liquified Natural Gas Company, NLNG, paid the Federal Government a dividend of N144 billion in the fiscal year ended December 2020.

This is according to the information contained in the Ministry of Finance Budget implementation report for the period of January 2020 to December 2020 and presented by the Minister for Finance Dr. Zainab Ahmed.

During the year, the Federal Government budgeted a sum of N80.3 billion as its share of dividends from NLNG, however, the actual sum received as its share was N144 billion, N63.2 billion more or 79% higher than projected.

The year 2020 was a difficult year for the government as the fall in crude oil prices and the economic shutdown that was triggered by the Covid-19 Pandemic dented projections and ravaged revenues.

READ:  NLNG says Train 7 project will surge production capacity to 30 million MPTA 


NLNG Dividend Bliss

The dividend received from NLNG was a major bright spot in the government’s revenue performance for the year.

  • During the year, the government projected revenue of N5.36 trillion but only received N3.9 trillion in revenues representing a shortfall of N1.4 trillion or 27% for the year.
  • The huge dividend windfall received in 2020 is a stark contrast from 2017 when Nigeria just exited a recession triggered by falling oil prices and a sharp exchange rate devaluation.
  • In that year, the Federal Government’s share of dividends from Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) dropped by as much as $687 million, from $1.04 billion in 2015 to $365 million in 2016, a 65% drop.
  • The N144 billion received in 2020 topped the amount received from signature bonuses only N78.2 billion and complimented the N192 billion received by VAT.
  • It is the most effective form of revenue generation for the government.

READ: NLNG signs 10 year sales deal with Eni

NLNG Controversies

Back in July Nairametrics reported that the House of Representatives planned to investigate the alleged illegal withdrawal of $1.05 billion from the NLNG account by NNPC without its knowledge and appropriation.

  • They had accused the NNPC of illegally tampering with the funds at the NLNG dividends account to the tune of 1.05 billion dollars thereby violating the nation’s appropriation law.
  • NLNG is a company jointly owned by Nigerian owned NNPC(49%), Shell (25.6%), Total (15%), and ENI (10.4%).
  • The company is located in Bonny Island and has six trains with a total capacity to process 22 million tonnes of LNG a year and as much as 5 million tonnes of natural gas liquids.
  • NLNG currently accounts for about 7% of the total LNG supply in the world. Nigeria is ranked as the 4th exporter of Natural Gas in the world.

READ: NLNG signs supply agreement with Galp Trading SA

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Upshots: The FG is targeting a revenue of N208 billion from NLNG as dividends in 2021. If this materializes, it will be a significant payout in dividend (in naira terms) competing with the N238.4 billion expected from VAT.

  • Important to note that the recent devaluation of the naira will increase the naira value of dividends and other government revenue, as it did in 2020.
  • The government also targets N6.6 trillion in revenue for the period under review.

Updated: An earlier version of this article captured the dividend as N188 billion instead of N144 billion. It has now been corrected. 

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