The Making of Africa’s Fastest Growing Telecoms Market

The rising subscriber base of mobile telecommunication operators, Internet penetration and the boom in the sale of ICT products sustain Nigeria’s ranking as one of the fastest growing telecoms markets in the world

GSM-Subscriber-laments2The ranking of Nigeria as the fastest growing telecommunications market in the world by the International Telecommunications Union, ITU, for five consecutive years did not come as a surprise to many stakeholders in the telecoms industry. This is said to be one of the outstanding achievements of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, especially in the Eugene Juwah era at the commission. His over 30 years of experience in analogue and digital mobile networks deployment, ICT marketing, management, and policy advisory in the industry are some of the factors telecommunication experts put into consideration in assessing the growth of the telecoms sector.

In terms of subscriber base and network expansion, growth projections were overtaken within a short time, resulting in active subscription figures hitting about 131 million in May 2014. This is in addition to more than 42 million lines in less than four years, and a teledensity of 93.7 per cent within the same period from the 63.11 per cent figures in 2010. These figures have kept Nigeria within the rank of the global fastest growing telecommunications market.

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 (May)
Total Active Subscription 88.3 Million 95.9 Million 113.2 Million 127.6 Million 131.1 Million
Teledensity 63.11 68.49 80.85 91.15 93.7

In making this dream come true, Juwah did not discount the importance of infrastructure deployment to drive growth. This led to diplomatic engagements of the investors and service providers to ensure robust support for the services and deployment of latest products and services to fast track acquisition of different categories of services that are already available in most developed countries of the world.

The consolidation process of the NCC did not stop at voice telephony. It has taken the country to the cyberspace making subscribers to be as connected as subscribers in any other part of the world. One of the great benefits is the fact that the social media has taken an enviable position as one of the key phenomenon of the telecoms industry.

Electronic data transmission has also taken root in all aspects of Nigerian life with availability of the Internet to users in the offices, homes and on mobile devices on the go. The financial industry has made the Internet the bedrock of its operations because of its availability in Nigeria. Online transactions such as airline booking, hotel reservations, Internet banking, cashless transactions, online trading and use of similar services have witnessed astronomical growth.

Today, the leadership of the NCC is laying emphasis on the need for service providers to ensure deployment of appropriate and effective technologies. The impact has become phenomenal with the Nigerian population hooked on to the net. The result is that from June 2012 when total Internet subscription was about 25.4 million, the nation now boasts of more than 65.8 million Internet users as at April, 2014, a growth of over 160 per cent.

Interestingly, one of the areas where Nigeria has recorded huge success that contributed to its ranking as one of the fastest growing telecoms markets in the world is in the volume of trade on telecoms gadgets and accessories. Indeed, many factors came into consideration for the raking as highlighted by Peter Igoh, chairman, board of directors of the NCC, when he said, “If you look at the subscriber base of the service providers, you look at the total number of facilities they have on the ground, you also take a look at the number of people that have access to the Internet, you take a look at the number of active lines they have. You do the same analysis for next year. And it is done every year especially in terms of broadband penetration. You also look at the revenue generated.”

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