Nigerians and other nationals within Nigeria spent N3.25tn on airtime, data, and other telecommunication services in 2021, according to the Nigerian Communications Commission.
This is a 12.74 per cent increase from the N2.88tn that was spent in 2020 and a 31.55 per cent increase from the N2.47tn that was spent in 2019, reflecting a sustained increase in the relevance of telecoms services.
A report titled, ‘2021 Subscriber/Network Data Annual Report,’ by the NCC said, “Finance – This collation was based on the submissions received from service providers. It indicates that the total revenue in the sector recorded was N3.25tn.”
In 2021, 173.56 billion minutes of calls were made in Nigeria, indicating a 15.07 per cent increase from the 150.83 billion minutes of calls that were made in 2020. The number of SMS sent increased by 15.06 per cent from 8.22 billion in 2020 to 9.46 billion in 2021.
The revenue was generated by operators in GSM, fixed wired, Internet service provision, value service added, collocation and infrastructure sharing, and other spaces.
GSM operators generated 85.42 per cent of the total revenue in the telecoms sector. According to the NCC, the suspension of sale and registration of new SIMs, SIM swaps, porting activities affected the growth of subscribers in the sector.
It said, “Subscriber number decreased from 204.60 million subscribers in 2020 to 195.46 million active voice subscriptions as at December 2021 with a loss of 9.14 million subscriptions.
“This represents about 4.46 per cent decline in total subscription within the period under consideration. The decrease in Operators’ subscriber base was attributed majorly to the effect of the directive from NCC in December 2020 to all GSM Operators to suspend the sale and registration of new SIMs, SIM swaps and all porting activities.”
“The objective of the audit exercise was to verify and ensure compliance by Mobile Network Operators with the set quality standards and requirements of SIM Card Registration as issued by the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and the Commission.”
According to the NCC, foreign direct investment into the telecoms industry was $417.48m in 2021. Data usage surged in the year by 68.22 per cent from 209,917.40TB in 2020 to 353,118.89TB in 2021.
Commenting on the growth in telecoms usage, the President, National Association of Telecoms Subscribers, Adeolu Ogunbanjo, said, “The year 2020 was the real COVID-19 period and people were trying to graduate online.
“In 2021, there was a full blast in online activity. Working from home, an increase in online economic and commercial transactions which were all on telecoms infrastructure. This growth was meant to be. 2021 witnessed an uptake in online activities as people had to use their devices online.
“Data usage and calls increased. The growth might be stunted in 2022 because about 70 million subscribers cannot make calls presently. Perhaps data, yes. But the implementation of the SIM-NIN policy will have its effect.”
The Chief Operating Officer of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria, Ajibola Olude, added, “There are many factors that are responsible for the increase in the usage of telecom services, one of them is that productivity is now driven by telecom services.
“If you go to any sector today, their growth, their productivity is driven by telecom services. For instance, hospitality, banking, and insurance. Telecoms is showing its ability to serve all the sectors of the economy. This growth is expected in 2022 due to the anticipated increase in the adoption of telecom services.”