Nigeria’s telecommunication landscape witnessed a unique level of competition in terms of the data war, as major telecoms operators recorded increases in their subscriber base in August 2020.
While subscribers exercised their power of ‘free entry and free exit’ in July 2020 to abandon some network providers for their preferred networks, the tide changed in August, as none of the data providers witnessed any loss.
According to data released by the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) for the month of August 2020, Nigeria’s largest mobile telecommunication company, MTN, gained 1.598 million data subscribers between July and August. Airtel successfully maintained an edge over Glo in terms of data subscriber numbers, as the telco added 738,462 subscribers, while the indigenous brand got 231,341.
On the other hand, 9mobile, whose number of data subscribers had suffered a steady decline for months, took industry watchers by surprise in August. Contrary to its July report when its subscriber base fell from 7.25 million (May) to 7.14 million (July), Its data subscribers rose by 32,621 in August, to a record of 7,170 million subscribers.
In July 2020, Nairametrics reported that Glo attracted more subscribers, outshining Airtel’s subscriber base for the first time in years. Despite a challenging year for Globacom in terms of its data subscriber base, the telco took industry watchers by surprise, as its subscriber base number overtook Airtel’s in June 2020.
For the first time in years, Airtel, the once second largest telco (by subscribers base) lost its position to Glo, as the latter increased its base from 37.23 million in May to 37.97 million by the end of June 2020, while the former only managed to increase its base from 37.32 million to 37.57 million within the same period.
MTN still leads the pack
Competition among three of Nigeria’s largest data sellers took different turns in July, as Airtel recovered from the drop recorded in June when it took over its second-place position from Glo. It is important to note that in June 2020, about 249,000 data subscribers dumped Airtel for other networks, a development that made Glo take over the second place from the brand.
Meanwhile, in a complete twist of events, at the end of July 2020, the total number of data subscribers on MTN data network rose from 60.60 million in June to 62.29 million in July, followed by Airtel data network, which rose from 37.56 million to 39.05 million. This means the telcos added 1.69 million and 1.49 million data subscribers, respectively.
In its own case, Glo managed to increase its subscriber base by 285,011 from 37.97 million to 38.25 million within the same period.
The internet remains slow in Nigeria, despite the global return to the pre-COVID-19 levels. In its recent report in tracking COVID-19’s Impact on Global Internet Performance, which was updated in July 2020, Speed Test found that internet speeds in most countries have stabilized to pre-pandemic levels.
However, it stated that in the case of Nigeria, while the global fixed speed increased by 5%, the African giant’s speed was rated -2%, with her mobile speed at -3%.
Also, Nairametrics had reported earlier that years down the line, Nigeria is still faced with poor internet quality. In a recent survey conducted on 4G services in 77 countries including Nigeria, Network monitoring outfit, Opensignal, concluded that congestion is messing with the 4G user experience. Nigeria ranked 75 out of 77 of the countries surveyed in terms of 4G speed.
According to Opensignal, the 4G networks enjoyed today are light-years from the 3G that kicked off the mobile data revolution at the turn of the millennium. But the networks have their faults, the biggest among them being inconsistency and congestion.
In all, while GSM companies continue to jostle for market share, it has often come at the expense of poor service and lack of accountability. Quite frankly, as an average internet user in Nigeria, one is usually left at the mercy of poor mobile internet services which frustrates one to seek limited alternatives.
BREAKING: Lagos relaxes curfew further, now from 10pm to 6am
The Lagos state government has announced a further relaxation of the earlier imposed curfew to be effective from 10 pm to 6 am.
The Lagos state government, on Friday, October 30, 2020, announced a further relaxation of the curfew imposed after the outbreak of violence across the state following the #EndSARS protest against police brutality and extra-judicial killings from 10 pm to 6 am.
This is against the curfew from 8 pm to 6 am that is currently in operation.
This was disclosed in a series of tweet posts by the Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotosho, on his official Twitter handle.
The Lagos State Government has announced a further relaxation of the curfew imposed after the breakdown of law and order, following the hijack of the peaceful #EndSARS protests.The curfew will now be from 10pm till 6am. #HealingLagos #ForAGreaterLagos
— Gbenga Omotoso (@gbenga_omo) October 30, 2020
The commissioner said that Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu praises Lagosians for observing the curfew which is expected to restore normalcy in our communities. He urges all Lagosians to go about their businesses in peace, even as they shun actions that can threaten our unity.
The statement from Omotosho partly reads, ‘’The Lagos State Government has announced a further relaxation of the curfew imposed after the breakdown of law and order, following the hijack of the peaceful #EndSARS protests. The curfew will now be from 10 pm to 6 am.’’
The statement also said that the Governor advised purveyors of fake news to stop causing disaffection among Lagosians, who are well known for being peace-loving and friendly.
Nairametrics had about a week ago, reported the easing of 24-hour curfew which was earlier imposed by the Lagos State Government from 6 pm to 8 am. This was announced by the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, during a press briefing at State House Marina, after a tour of the state to inspect the level of destruction of the public and private asset during the #EndSARS protests that later turned violent.
This action suggests a move towards a return to normalcy as businesses try to get back to full activities after the 2 weeks of protests that brought economic activities in the state to a halt. This also coincides with the approval for all markets to open every day of the week by the Lagos state government.
Nigerian women need over 50% representation in government by 2023
In Nigeria, there is still a need for Nigerian women to have up to 50% representation in government.
Women are taking part in the governance and nation-building of their countries. In October 2019, the global participation rate of women at the national level was 24.5% compared to 8% in 2013 which is quite reassuring. However, in Nigeria, there is still a need for Nigerian women to have up to 50% representation in government.
The reason more women are needed in governance is that they have the expertise to aid in achieving a stronger and vibrant democracy. According to Mr Ban Ki-moon, the former Secretary-General of the United Nation, “When we empower women, we empower communities and nations and the entire human communities.”
A good number of women in Nigeria have made a significant impact on governance and nation-building. Historically, once women come together, they can make things happen because they understand their issues and can articulate them from a point of succinct comprehension.
Mrs. Fumilayo Ramson-Kuti was an activist and a political campaigner – 30 years ago, when there was a tax levy on women in Egba land, she coordinated a women’s union group after a long tussle with the colonial administration and traditional rulers.
Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is another prominent woman in the global space. She served as Nigeria’s Finance Minister and also as Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister. Currently, she is on the verge of becoming the first female and the first African Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Asides from these two, a lot of women are making waves in society – not only in politics but also in managerial positions and businesses.
Factors that hinder women’s participation in politics
In 2016, there was a study by McKinsey that revealed that only 5% of women are CEOs of companies, 22% cabinet members, while 24% are elected to official positions in Africa.
More so, in the last election 2019 in Nigeria, there were up to 3000 women candidates across all the parties. However, only 64 women were elected and appointed into political offices. Looking at the figures, there is a clear indication that it is very low and needs to be addressed as the 2023 election approaches.
Here are the major challenges affecting women’s involvement in politics in Nigeria.
- Godfathers: In politics, godfatherism is a very big role. For women who are not able to build that network, it becomes a very big issue for them. To avert that, women are advised to create their own network in politics – support one another and assist each other in climbing the ladder, especially for those who are already in government.
- Raising funds: Election campaigns are very expensive to participate in.
- Religious factor/Traditional factors: A lot of people still feel women should be seen and not heard, because they are under a man and should be submissive. Cultural & religious barriers still exists, and it prohibits women from fully contributing to governance. The emergence of women as leaders does not need to subjugate their cultural and religious identities. Men & Women need to understand that it is only through joint decision-making and cooperation, that the society can thrive.
Here are what women can do to thrive in politics
For women to have 50% representation in government, here are what is needed.
- Those already elected must see themselves as a springboard and position themselves strategically, so they can increase the number of women in political offices. It is also important for women to leverage technology and use social media to enable them to build a community of women leaders/activists.
- Having already announced the date for 2023 election, it is imperative that women start preparing themselves ahead of the election and strategize on how to get more women elected to the government.
- Finally, having a skill is very crucial for women who want to be community leaders.
Why exchange rate disparity remains high despite CBN’s intervention
Despite the intervention measures by the CBN, why does the disparity between the official and black-market rates remain high?
The Nigerian economy has been faced with serious foreign exchange crisis since the first quarter of the year, with severe pressure on the nation’s foreign exchange market and external reserve. The local currency is under the grip of tough external pressure, characterized by internal foreign exchange shortages and consistently high black-market rates. This has led to a high disparity between the official exchange rate and black-market rate.
The undesired situation is attributable to the crash in crude oil prices, triggered by the coronavirus pandemic that has impacted negatively on the global economy. The plunging oil prices have increased the pressure on the naira, as about 90% of Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings is from crude oil exports.
Bank of Africa analysts, Rukayat Yusuf and Andrew MacFarlane, in its Global Bank’s latest report on Nigeria’s forex unification and shortages, said that Nigeria’s current foreign exchange pressure is likely to gain momentum in 2021, as the economy and imports recovery will trigger a future adjustment of the nation’s currency to N430/$1 next year.
Recall that despite several initial denials by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in response to the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic and oil shocks; the apex bank on March 20, 2020, devalued the exchange rate from N307/$1 to N360/$1. This was followed with the suspension of sales of foreign currency to the Bureau De Change operators on March 27, 2020, in the face of depleting external reserves.
In a move viewed as attempts by the CBN to unify the exchange rate, the apex bank further devalued the naira on August 6, 2020, from N360/$1 to N380/$1 on the official window and closed the gap with the parallel market – which is the unofficial market. The huge exchange rate gap has made round-tripping very lucrative and encouraged hoarding amongst forex dealers.
Goldman Sachs analysts had earlier predicted that the exchange rate will dip to N500 to $1 in the face of rising inflation and declining external reserves. The wide gap between the official and unofficial rates is seen by analysts as an indication of increasing pressure on the forex market and dollar shortages, which the CBN is trying to contain with several policies targeted at reducing the demand for the greenback, conserve the scarce foreign exchange, and help boost dollar supply in the market.
Some of these policies include:
- Resumption of sales of dollars to the Bureau De Change Operators and mandating them to sell at not more than N386 to a dollar.
- Removal of third parties from buying forex routed through Form M.
- Clampdown on exporters who refuse to repatriate their export proceeds to Nigeria.
- Restriction on forex allocation to importers of maize by the Deposit Money Banks (DMBs).
However, despite some of these measures by the CBN, the disparity between the official and black-market rates still remain as high as almost N70. So, the question is why the huge gap? Especially, with the resumption of dollar sales to the BDCs.
Some analysts and stakeholders have complained that the measures are hurting business operations and pushed more demands to the parallel market. They believe it has encouraged hoarding and speculations to continue thriving; thereby, making it difficult to reduce the black-market rate.
What they are saying
While expressing his view on why the exchange rate disparity is still high, despite the resumption of dollar sales to BDCs; the President of Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON), Aminu Gwadebe, said the impact of the resumption of sales of foreign exchange to BDCs is expected to be gradual.
Gwadebe said, “Firstly, the impact is gradual. You know there was a time when the dollar reached N500/$1. N474, N480 to a dollar was when there were other interventions in the market. As soon as the news of the resumption of sales to Bureau De Change broke, we witnessed the dollar going for as low as N420, N430 to a dollar. However, after taking off, the rate is now N460, which is the parallel market rate.
“Don’t forget there is a huge backlog and every other buyer – authorized or unauthorized, queued in the parallel market. So, the pressure is on the parallel market from manufacturers and existing investors. In fact, the most unfortunate behavior is hoarding and speculation.’’
The ABCON President noted that people hoard and speculate when liquidity is low in the retail sector of the market. He pointed out that, although the liquidity is gradual, the rebound is expected to continue gradually.
Gwadebe said the role of the BDCs is to provide liquidity in the retail end of the market, which is what the CBN is empowering the BDCs to do and a key reason the rate has improved from the record high of about N480/$1.
Explore the Advanced Financial Calculators on Nairametrics
He noted that the resumption of sales of dollars to BDCs is discouraging frivolous demands, adding liquidity into the system, aiding return of confidence and stability in the market.
He reiterated that the BDCs remain the only threat to hoarding and speculation, while expressing satisfaction that the reserve is growing and will increase the confidence of investors.