Nigeria has Africa’s largest mobile market, with about 173 million subscribers and a penetration rate of 123%. The number of subscribers fell in 2017 as consumers responded to a poor economic climate and as regulatory measures continued to oblige operators to disconnect unregistered SIM cards, though growth into 2019 was strong. The initial rapid growth in the number of subscribers had led to problems with network congestion and quality of service, prompting the regulator to impose fines and sanctions on network operators. These operators have responded by investing billions of dollars in base stations and fibre transmission infrastructure to support the increasing demand for data. The migration from the CDMA platform to GSM technology is almost complete, and though GSM still dominates the market there is a growing shift to services based on LTE. Although LTE coverage remains relatively low, investment among operators is extending the reach of services and is helping to develop consumer use of mobile data services.
Efforts are also being made to encourage network sharing and to outsource the management of tower infrastructure to third parties. There remains considerable growth potential in rural areas where the provision of network infrastructure and operations is expensive, and consequently where mobile penetration is lower. The government’s plan to increase broadband penetration to 70% by 2021 largely depends on mobile infrastructure.
MTN Nigeria, Glo Mobile (Globacom), Bharti Airtel (formerly Zain, Celtel), 9Mobile (Etisalat Nigeria, EMTS, Mubadala), M-Tel (Nitel), Visafone, Starcomms (Capcom), Multi-Links, Reliance, InterC Network (Intercellular), Megatech Engineering (Zoda Fones), Telkom, Econet Wireless, Vodacom.
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