2011 Nigeria - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Forecasts

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Last updated: 9 Feb 2011 Update History

Report Status: Archived

Report Pages: 110

Analyst: Peter Lange

Publication Overview

This annual report provides a comprehensive overview of trends and developments in Nigeria’s telecommunications market. Subjects covered include:

  • Key statistics;
  • Market and industry overviews;
  • Government policies affecting the telecoms industry;
  • Market liberalisation and regulatory issues;
  • Major players (fixed, mobile and broadband);
  • Telecoms operators – privatisation, acquisitions, financial results, new licences;
  • Infrastructure development;
  • National fibre rollouts;
  • International submarine fibre optic cables;
  • Mobile voice and data markets, including 3G;
  • Internet development;
  • Broadband, including 3G mobile
  • Convergence (voice/data, fixed/wireless/mobile).
  • Average Revenue per User;
  • Mobile money transfer and m-banking.

Researcher:- Peter Lange
Current publication date:- February 2011 (10th Edition)

Executive Summary

Africa’s largest mobile market expected to reach 100 million subscribers

Nigeria is one of the biggest and fastest growing telecom markets in Africa, attracting huge amounts of foreign investment, and is yet standing at relatively low levels of market penetration. Far reaching liberalisation has led to hundreds of companies providing virtually all kinds of telecom and value-added services in an independently regulated market. After failing three times in the past, the privatisation of Nitel, the incumbent national telco, is scheduled to be finally completed in 2011.

The West African country has overtaken South Africa to become the continent’s largest mobile market with now over 85 million subscribers, and yet market penetration stands at only around 55% in early 2011. However, subscriber growth slowed significantly during 2009, partly as a result of the global economic crisis.

Much of the remaining addressable market is in the country’s rural areas where network rollouts and operations are expensive. This, in combination with declining ARPU levels, is forcing the networks to streamline their operations and to develop new revenue streams from services such as third generation mobile broadband, mobile payments/banking, and others. At the same time the operators are rolling out national fibre backbone networks to support the ever increasing demand for bandwidth.

Nigeria is also the most competitive fixed-line market in Africa, featuring a second national operator, (Globacom) and over 80 other companies licensed to provide fixed telephony services. The alternative carriers combined now provide over 95% of all fixed connections, the majority of which have been implemented using wireless technologies.

This gives the network operators the opportunity to also enter the lucrative mobile market under a new unified licensing regime and has helped them to secure hundreds of millions of US$ in investments from local and foreign investors.

Nitel’s monopoly on international fibre bandwidth via the SAT-3/WASC submarine cable system ended in 2009 when Globacom’s Glo-1 cable landed in the country. Additional submarine cables are scheduled to go online in 2011 and 2012. This is set to revolutionise the country’s underdeveloped Internet and broadband sector by reducing the cost of international bandwidth by up to 90%.

New powerful players from the fixed-wireless and mobile network operator camps have entered this market with 3G mobile and advanced wireless broadband services such as WiMAX. The Internet Protocol (IP)-based next generation networks currently being rolled out are enabling converged voice, data/Internet and video services.

VoIP is already carrying the bulk of Nigeria’s international voice traffic. Applications such as e-commerce, online banking and e-payments, e-health, e-learning and e-government are rapidly evolving.

This annual report contains a market overview and analysis, key statistics, regulatory issues, profiles of major players – MTN, Globacom, Bharti Airtel (formerly Zain), Visafone, EMTS, Nitel/M-Tel, Multi-Links, Starcomms, Reliance, M-Tel, Intercellular, among others – including financial results where available, and two scenario forecasts for the mobile market in 2012 and 2016.

Market highlights:

  • The largest mobile market and the most competitive fixed-line market in the region;
  • New competition in international fibre bandwidth is set to revolutionise the market;
  • Profiles of major players, including financial results;
  • Estimates for end-2011 and 2012 for fixed-line and Internet market;
  • Forecasts for mobile market to 2012 and 2016.

Estimated market penetration rates in Nigeria’s telecoms sector – end 2011


Penetration rate







(Source: BuddeComm based on various sources)

Peter Lange

February 2011

Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year.

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