The number of Internet subscribers in Nigeria grew astronomically by 14.03 million in the fourth quarter of 2021 to 154.3 million compared to 140.28 million recorded in the previous quarter. This is contained in the recently published telecoms report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). The internet subscriber base increased by 10% quarter-on-quarter, with MTN Nigeria boasting the highest customer base with 58.8 million subscribers, followed by Globacom with 39.53 million.
Also, Airtel recorded a total internet subscriber base of 37.53 million as of the end of 2021, 9mobile with 5.75 million, SMILE (314,674), and NTEL with 27,799.
Meanwhile, the two most populated states in the country, Lagos and Kano alongside Ogun State made up the top list of states with the highest internet subscribers in Nigeria, with 37.61 million subscriptions as of December 2021 according to a report
A closer examination of the data reveals that in Q4 2021, all 36 states of the federation, including the federal capital territory of Abuja, saw an increase in the number of internet subscribers over the previous quarter.
States with the most internet subscribers
Unsurprisingly, Lagos State remained on top with 18.94 million internet subscribers at the end of Q4 2021, up 1.44 million from the previous quarter’s 17.71 million. Lagos State accounted for 12.3 percent of the country’s total internet users.
MTN, with 6.27 million subscribers, served the majority of subscribers in Lagos State, followed by Airtel and Globacom with 4.98 million and 4.85 million subscribers, respectively.
Similarly, Kano State came in second with 9.59 million internet subscribers, accounting for 6.2 percent of all internet users. As of the review period, Ogun State had 9.1 million subscribers. In addition, Oyo State, which is home to West Africa’s largest city, has 8.05 million internet users.
What happened in the year 2020?
In December 2020, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) suspended the registration of new SIM cards, requiring all telcos to link their mobile subscribers’ National Identification Numbers (NIN).
The order came with a warning that anyone who did not connect their NIN to their SIM within four weeks would be disconnected. The deadline was then repeatedly extended before being reversed in April of the same year. However, the abrupt policy reversed the sector’s record-breaking growth in 2020, when the internet subscriber base grew by 28.2 million to over 154 million by the end of the year.
It has not yet recovered to the level seen during the covid-19 lockdown, despite the recent increase.
Gainers with the most In Q4 2021, Lagos State had the most new active internet subscribers, with 1.44 million new subscribers, closely followed by Kano State, which had 1.43 million new subscribers.
In addition, Katsina’s internet subscriber base grew by 728,131 in the quarter under review, while Zamfara State added 706,367 new subscribers to reach 2.14 million by the end of 2021.
Bayelsa State, on the other hand, saw the smallest increase, with 77,523 new internet subscribers, followed by Ebonyi State with 101,994 new subscribers.
What does this imply?
The recent increase in internet subscribers indicates that the telecommunications sector has recovered from the earlier in the year downturn caused by the NCC’s ban on new sim registration.
In addition, a look at the financial statements of publicly traded telco companies shows that their data earnings are expected to skyrocket in 2021. MTN Nigeria’s data revenue increased by 55.3 percent year on year to N516.2 billion in 2021, while Airtel Nigeria’s data revenue increased by 41.2 percent to N283.5 billion.