Nigeria’s internet users surge 14% in year to May 2020

The number of internet users in Nigeria increased by 14 percent year-on-year in May 2020, according to the data released Tuesday by the Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC).

The increase put the total active internet subscribers in the country at over 141 million in May as against the 123 million that was recorded in the comparable period of 2019.

While 18 million new active users were recorded in the year ended May 2020, 10 million of the total subscribers were added in the first five months of this year.

“Nigerians are beginning to develop internet awareness, the social media culture is accelerating while smartphone penetration has been improving. All these have been responsible for the growth in internet users,” Ayorinde Akinloye, a research analyst at CSL stockbrokers said.

Of the total number of active internet users in Africa’s most populous nation, 99.82 percent were on mobile (GSM) as Fixed (Wireless/Wired) and VoIP accounted for 0.06 percent and 0.12 percent respectively.

Analysis of the data by the regulator of the telecommunications industry, NCC, shows there was  addition of more internet users in December 2019 and February and March of 2020 as the months saw an increase in active subscribers by 4 million each.

While the total active telephone users in the country jumped by 10.69 percent in the review year from   173.4 million in May 2019 to 191.93million in the same month of this year, data on the number of active subscribers for telephony services on each of the licensed service providers utilizing different technologies including GSM, CDMA, Fixed Wireless and Fixed Wired (i.e. Landline) showed that MTN topped the chart with 76.012 million subscribers as against the 64.81 million reported in the corresponding month of last year.

MTN Nigeria was followed by Globacom with 52.06 million active subscribers while Airtel, 9mobile and Vodafone recorded 51.49 million, 12.22 million and 137,086 respectively.
“Cheaper smartphones from Asia have been a boon to internet penetration in Africa in general and created a new and fast-growing income line for telecommunications companies who are now recording double-digit growth in data revenue,” Omotola Abimbola, a Lagos-based research analyst said.

According to a 2019 report by FBNQuest, a subsidiary of the FBN group, the increase in Nigeria’s internet users could have been because “subscribers usually patronise dual-SIM mobile phones and stay connected via separate data packages on multiple networks, to “achieve uninterrupted internet access.”

Data compiled from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) shows that telecommunication industry contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rose by a marginal 0.77 percentage points to 10.88 percent in Q1 2020, from 10.11 percent in the comparable quarter of 2019.

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