MTN Controls 39.73% Nigeria’s 152.46m Subscriber Base, Glo 24.56%

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

MTN Nigeria has continued to dominate the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) sub-sector of the telecommunications industry in Nigeria with the control of 39.73 percent of the market share.

Since its entry into the Nigerian market in 2001, when it was granted licence to operate alongside Econet, which has since metamorphosed to Airtel, MTN has continued to spread like wildfire in the country, becoming the preferred network of GSM users.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the total number of telephone subscribers stood at 154.52 million, equivalent to an increase of 12.27 million subscribers every year since 2005.

However, growth has been declining more recently, possibly as a result of high market penetration leaving less room for large expansion, FSDH Research stated in its Monthly Economic & Financial Market Outlook: June 2017.

As at first quarter of 2017, there were 152.46 million subscribers, compared with 154.52 million in September 2016, representing 1.33 percent decline.

The GSM subscribers contribute 99.69 percent to the total subscribers as at Q1 2017, followed by Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) with 0.14 percent of the total, while fixed wired and wireless make up 0.08 percent and 0.02 percent respectively.

But MTN remains the largest provider of GSM subscriptions, accounting for 39.73 percent. The second largest provider was Globacom, which accounted for 24.56 percent of subscriptions, Airtel share was 22.80 percent, while Etisalat accounts for the least number of subscriptions at 12.91 percent of the total.

Analysts at FSDH Research said in the report that the total number of internet subscribers with the GSM operators stood at 89.97 million as at March 31, 2017.

The proportion of GSM users with internet subscriptions dropped in 2016 to 59.61 percent, from 65.26 percent recorded in 2015. This drop was caused by MTN and Etisalat.

As at end-March 2017, the internet subscribers of the GSM carriers were: MTN 30.51 million; Globacom 27.02 million; Airtel 19.42 million and; Etisalat 13 million.

In Q1 2017, MTN’s Share of GSM internet connection was 33.92 percent; Globacom’s was 30.03 percent; Airtel’s was 21.59 percent; and Etisalat’s was 14.46 percent.

The report further said there were a total of 41,419 incoming porters in Q1 2017, a decrease from 49,547 in Q4 2016, and a decline of 19.26 percent from 51,301 porters recorded in Q1 2016. Quarter-on-quarter, Airtel and MTN recorded increases, while Etisalat and Globacom recorded decreases.

Although Etisalat remained the largest provider, their share fell from 77.52 percent in the final quarter of 2016 to 65.79 percent in the first quarter of 2017.

By contrast Airtel increased their share by nearly 10 percent points, from 6.95 percent to 16.55 percent, and therefore became the second largest destination for incoming porters.

MTN also increased their share, from 8.83 percent to 11.63 percent, but fell to being the third largest destination due to Airtel’s larger increase.

Globacom remained the smallest destination of incoming porters for the third consecutive quarter, and their share fell from 6.69 percent to 6.03 percent between Q4 2016 and Q1 2017. The resurgence of the Nigerian economy would have a positive impact on the telecommunication sector.


Modupe Gbadeyanka is a fast-rising journalist with Business Post Nigeria. Her passion for journalism is amazing. She is willing to learn more with a view to becoming one of the best pen-pushers in Nigeria. Her role models are the duo of CNN's Richard Quest and Christiane Amanpour.

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