For the first time since its launch on April 22, 2013 by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), telecommunications operators in the country conducted no porting activities in the first three months of the year.
Statistics from the NCC showed that the quartet of MTN, Globacom, Airtel and 9mobile recorded zero number porting activities from January to March on both incoming and outgoing platforms. This is not unconnected to the SIM-NIN policy that was enforced by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami.
Speaking on the development, the Nigeria Coordinator, Alliance of Affordable Internet (A4AI), Olusola Teniola, said: “It appears that MNP requires a new SIM to be issued during the porting process. This new SIM requires a NIN to be associated with it and in Q1, operators were not issuing new SIMs due to FG’s ban being in place.”
MNP is designed to offer subscribers the opportunity to port their GSM numbers from one network to another, without losing their original numbers.
The move was also meant to push the network operators to improve the quality of service provided, or risk losing their market share to poor services.
Further analysis of the statistics showed that in 2020, telecoms operators welcomed 182,958 subscribers to their various networks, while 181,171 ported out.
MEANWHILE, the last quarter report of 2020 leading into Q1, 2021, showed deep contraction in the growth of the operators. According to the NCC data, the quartet collectively witnessed a 5.95 per cent growth slump.
On individual basis, MTN slumped by 5.99 per cent; Globacom 3.50 per cent, Airtel 9.45 per cent and 9mobile 1.01 per cent. Based on this development, about 15 million active lines were lost, which resulted into loss of billions of naira by the operators.
The decline witnessed in the telecoms sub-sector also had a major impact on the entire gamut of the ICT industry. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) informed last week that the ICT sector grew by 7.86 per cent in Q1 2021, 1.07 per cent lower than the 8.94 per cent recorded in Q1 2020, and 8.46 per cent lower than the rate recorded in Q4 2020.
The sector contributed 14.91 per cent to aggregate real GDP in Q1, higher than the contribution of 14.07 per cent in Q1 2020 but lower than the 15.06 per cent recorded in Q4 2020.
Teniola said that subscribers’ changing behaviour was affecting the revenue base of telecommunications companies. According to him, there is a propensity for consumers to now spend their money on acquiring services using WhatsApp.
Teniola said if you look at the figure that both MTN and Airtel posted, there was a slowdown in voice growth, but an uptick in data consumption or data service contribution to their top line.
“That reflects the fact that most people are now using over-the-top applications to make calls. The propensity for the consumers, due to COVID-19-induced job losses, will be to seek different ways of using services rendered by the mobile network operators. And since the MNOs are the major contributors to the telecoms industry, it would be reflected likewise in their contribution to GDP.”
With MNOs largely accounting for 98 per cent of the income of the industry, the former President, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), said with the impact on revenue, the telcos would continue to contribute less to the GDP.
“The impact of the SIM-NIN policy will slow down growth. The NIN requirement will slow down the ability to register SIMs legally because not every Nigerian has NIN,” he said.