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Making sense of the increased data usage since COVID-19

Working from home came with an increased need for data from people who barely needed much.

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Across various sectors, the COVID-19 pandemic changed consumer behaviours, altering trends and making nonsense of forecasts for the year.

The Q2 GDP report recently released by the National Bureau of Statistics shows that while most sectors experienced a contraction, sectors like crop production, trade and telecommunications experienced positive growth.

Among other sectors that experienced positive growth, Telecommunications grew 18.1% contributing 14.3% to the total GDP. It is understandable that telecommunications would experience a surge in activities during a lockdown. People need constant relations to keep in touch, especially when they have been restricted to the four walls of their homes.

For MTN Nigeria, the Q1 and Q2 reports filed with the Nigerian Stock exchange showed that revenue from Data usage rose by more than N5 billion in Q2 when compared with the previous quarter. The company recorded N79.97 billion in Q2 against N74 billion in Q1.

In the same period, revenue for voice calls dropped by more than N20 billion, from N194 billion in Q1 to N174 billion in Q2.

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Commenting on the report, the company had remarked that demand for data and digital services grew, even as other services were impacted by the economic constraints caused by lockdowns and movement restrictions. This is in spite of the 90-day free SMS initiative which was launched in April, where more than 4.3 billion free text messages were sent before the end of June.

Note also that the revenue from data does not factor in the visits to healthcare websites which MTN had zero-rated as part of moves to support Nigerians in accessing credible and reliable data. According to the Q2 report, customers used more than 3,000 Terabytes (equivalent of 3 million GB) of data in visiting these sites.

Towards the end of H1, this initiative was expanded to include a range of education platforms endorsed by Nigerian federal and state governments, but no data was given on this.

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A look at Airtel Nigeria’s financials will also reveal same trend. Revenue from data grew by almost a billion naira, from N45.6 billion in the first quarter of 2020 (January to March 2020) to N46.4 billion in the second quarter (April to June). Revenue from voice calls dropped by N14 billion, from N88.9 billion in January to March 2020, to N74.8 billion in the subsequent quarter.

Airtel Nigeria usually reports its figures in dollars, so the figures given above were arrived at using an exchange rate of N380 to $1.

Chief Executive Officer, Raghunath Mandava, explained in the report that this is the result of people seeking new ways of socialising while trying to contain the spread of infection. To keep up with the trend, the company had to increase the penetration of digital recharges and expand its home broadband solutions.

More data, less calls! Why?

As soon as the realities of the lockdown set in, many companies set about activating the remote working framework. To do this, several applications came into use and employees had to set about adapting to them.

Working from home definitely played a role in increasing people’s data needs. A previous report from Nairametrics had some workers admitting that their data consumption tripled because of the demands of working online all day. Irrespective of who bore the cost of the increased data demand, employees had to stay online to work, attend to customers and clients, attend meetings, e-conferences and seminars.

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The lockdown also saw teachers being compelled to go online. Whereas the usual teaching system in Nigeria would have required students seated in the classroom with the teacher physically present. Private schools took their lessons online during the lockdown. Some ran the entire term curriculum and classes, and even took their examinations online at the end of the term.

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These activities came with increased demand for data, from a group of people who barely had need for them before. If the teachers were giving out lessons online, parents also had to ensure that their children were available to take these lessons, and this meant even more data.

In addition, some consumers converted most of their voice calls into data calls, using apps like WhatsApp, Facebook, skype, Google etc.

Many brands also had to rethink their advertising and promotion strategies. There was hardly need for adopting electronic billboards and roadshows since people had been confined to their homes. Some of these companies took the options of online conferences, webinars, live sessions on Instagram and Facebook, and other opportunities to interact and engage with their customers online. These, of course, came with data implications for the audience.

A lot of information that could have been shared via voice calls are now being done through internet connectivity. Live sessions online have become the surest way to create activities with a customer base that you do not have personal interactions with.

Current data trends, as revealed in the American Business Council Economic e-conference recently held, indicated that hygiene concerns about cash could be responsible for the increase in e-commerce transactions and growing dependence on internet connectivity for both work and lifestyle needs.

Note that the data consumption figures stated in the article do not factor in the 3,000 Terabytes (or 3 million GB) of data consumed in visiting zero-rated sites during the period. One Gigabyte of internet data costs an average of N300, and multiplied by the free 3 million GB, we could be looking at almost N1 billion (N900 million) worth of data consumption.

Add this figure to the actual N154 billion of data revenue MTN recorded in the two quarters, and the N92 billion of data revenue for Airtel Nigeria in the two quarters, and we can see that Nigerians used at least N247 billion worth of data in H1 2020. This figure is not conclusive, of course as it does not factor in data revenue from the other two telcos – Globacom and 9Mobile.

According to Bola Asiru, Principal/Divisional Lead at MasterCard Advisors (Sub-Saharan Africa), consumer habits have been completely changed by the pandemic, and it is now more difficult to predict buying behaviours. However, what is certain is that there is going to be a lot of contactless business operations, and the data need will surge even higher among Nigerians.

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Ruth Okwumbu has a MSc. and BSc. in Mass Communication from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and Delta state university respectively. Prior to her role as analyst at Nairametrics, she had a progressive six year writing career. As a Business Analyst with Narametrics, she focuses on profiles of top business executives, founders, startups and the drama surrounding their successes and challenges. You may contact her via [email protected]

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Coronavirus

COVID-19 Update in Nigeria

On the 24th of November 2020, 168 new confirmed cases and 1 death was recorded in Nigeria

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The spread of novel Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) in Nigeria continues to record significant increases as the latest statistics provided by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control reveal Nigeria now has 66,607 confirmed cases.

On the 24th of November 2020, 168 new confirmed cases and 1 death was recorded in Nigeria, having carried out a total daily test of 5,838 samples across the country.

To date, 66,607 cases have been confirmed, 62,311 cases have been discharged and 1,169 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. A total of 749,136 tests have been carried out as of November 24th, 2020 compared to 743,298 tests a day earlier.

COVID-19 Case Updates- 24th November 2020,

  • Total Number of Cases – 66,607
  • Total Number Discharged – 62,311
  • Total Deaths – 1,169
  • Total Tests Carried out – 749,136

According to the NCDC, the 168 new cases were reported from 10 states- FCT (61), Lagos (50), Kaduna (27), Oyo (12), Rivers (6), Katsina (5), Ogun (3), Kwara (2), Edo (1), Kano (1).

Meanwhile, the latest numbers bring Lagos state total confirmed cases to 23,018, followed by Abuja (6,576), Plateau (3,805), Oyo (3,715), Rivers (2,963), Kaduna (2,940), Edo (2,695), Ogun (2,156), Delta (1,823), Kano (1,777), Ondo (1,727), Enugu (1,332),  Kwara (1,095), Ebonyi (1,055), Katsina (1,012), Osun (945), Gombe (938). Abia (926), Bauchi (753), and Borno (745).

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Imo State has recorded 662  cases, Benue (493), Nasarawa (485), Bayelsa (445),  Ekiti (354), Jigawa (328), Akwa Ibom (319), Niger (296), Anambra (285), Adamawa (261), Sokoto (165), Taraba (157), Yobe (94), Kebbi (93), Cross River (90), Zamfara (79), while Kogi state has recorded 5 cases only.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Western diplomats warn of disease explosion, poor handling by government

Lock Down and Curfew

In a move to combat the spread of the pandemic disease, President Muhammadu Buhari directed the cessation of all movements in Lagos and the FCT for an initial period of 14 days, which took effect from 11 pm on Monday, 30th March 2020.

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The movement restriction, which was extended by another two-weeks period, has been partially put on hold with some businesses commencing operations from May 4. On April 27th, 2020, Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari declared an overnight curfew from 8 pm to 6 am across the country, as part of new measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19. This comes along with the phased and gradual easing of lockdown measures in FCT, Lagos, and Ogun States, which took effect from Saturday, 2nd May 2020, at 9 am.

On Monday, 29th June 2020 the federal government extended the second phase of the eased lockdown by 4 weeks and approved interstate movement outside curfew hours with effect from July 1, 2020. Also, on Monday 27th July 2020, the federal government extended the second phase of eased lockdown by an additional one week.

On Thursday, 6th August 2020 the federal government through the secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 announced the extension of the second phase of eased lockdown by another four (4) weeks.

READ ALSO: Bill Gates says Trump’s WHO funding suspension is dangerous

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Cryptocurrency

28 million merchants to be granted crypto usage on PayPal

PayPal CEO, Mr. Schulman recently hinted the company will allow the usage of crypto funding for 28 million merchants.

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PayPal acquires shopping browser extension company for $4 billion

PayPal CEO, Mr. Schulman, recently hinted that the company would allow the usage of crypto funding for the 28 million merchants on its payments platform.

In a report credited to CNBC, the CEO of the payment juggernaut company elaborated further by saying, “Early next year, we’re going to allow cryptocurrencies to be a Funding Source for any transaction happening on all 28 million of our merchants and that will significantly bolster the utility of cryptocurrencies.”

READ: Why PayPal dropped 6% after posting its strongest earnings growth

The Chief Executive also disclosed that it was just a matter of time for digital currency to replace the old traditional forms of fiat currencies (paper money).

He said:

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“As paper money slowly dissipates and disappears from how people are using transactions; Central banks, especially on the retail side, will need to replace paper money with forms of digital fiat currency.”

READ: Ripple emerges as fourth biggest fintech company globally, worth $10 billion

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READ: NIPC releases its Q3 2020 report on Pioneer Status Incentive (PSI) applications

What this means

About a month ago, Nairametrics reported on PayPal Holdings Inc’s announcement that it would provide its users the opportunity to buy, hold, and sell cryptos directly from their PayPal accounts by early 2021.

It also hinted at a strategy to significantly boost its crypto’s utility capability, by making it readily available as a funding source for purchases with its 28 million clients globally.

READ: Unknown identity moves $117 million worth of Ethereum

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In a press statement seen by Nairametrics, Dan Schulman, President and CEO, PayPal, gave key insights on why the global payment company was going crypto:

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“The shift to digital forms of currencies is inevitable, bringing with it clear advantages in terms of financial inclusion and access, efficiency, speed, resilience of the payment system, and the ability for governments to disburse funds to citizens quickly.”

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Tech News

Snap to pay video creators $1 million daily

Snap Inc. is reportedly releasing new functionality to its Snapchat app in enabling popular videos that would be termed as Spotlight.

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The fast-growing public listed American social media company – Snap Inc., plans to release new functionality to its Snapchat app in order to enable popular videos that would be termed as Spotlight, and further disclosed it will pay $1 million per day to the creators of high performing videos.

According to Bloomberg, Snap revealed how content creators could earn such income with ease, as the level of entry was kept minimal, on the basis that video submitters to Spotlight do not need to have large followers or popular profiles.

What you should know

An algorithm from the app software will be the judge in realizing what videos Snapchat users will see based on how often Snap users view such videos.

If other snap chat users view the same content repeatedly, for example, that’s an alert it’s trending and this will trigger the algorithm to distribute it more widely.

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What this means

The new feature will give Snapchat enough ammunition to fend off its rivals in an ever-changing competitive market for posting trendy videos online, which has been largely controlled by Google’s YouTube, Facebook Inc.’s Instagram, and China-based ByteDance Ltd.’s popularly known TikTok.

Tech Experts anticipate that such a new feature in its trendy app could generate more revenue for the company, as its recent earnings show it has 249 million daily active users in Q3 – such high numbers will attract global brands on advertising and enable more sponsored content.

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The investors of the American social media company have earned high returns from its stock in 2020 alone, as its stock has almost tripled this year to a record $45.38million on the bias that an increasing number of young people spend more time on the app.

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