MTN Nigeria lost more than 600,000 data subscribers in one month – did issues around Xenophobic attacks contribute to this?

MTN Nigeria lost more than 600,000 data subscribers in one month (REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye image showing MTN Nigeria billboard)
  • MTN Nigeria retains its leading telecom market share despite losing 667,243 internet subscribers in just one month.
  • Between July and August 2019, Nigeria's internet users dropped from 122.7 million to 122.6 million.
  • Business Insider SSA looks at what could have caused the recent downturn in MTN Nigeria’s subscribers’ data.

MTN Nigeria has lost more than 600,000 data subscribers to fall to 51.6 million in August 2019 from 52.3 million recorded in July 2019, according to the latest stats released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

This is coming as Nigeria's internet users also dropped to 122.6 million in August 2019 compared to 122.7 million recorded the previous month.

Business Insider SSA's analysis shows that despite MTN Nigeria's drop in data subscription for the month, the South African firm retained its market lending share at 37.20%.

Further analysis of the NCC report showed that 9mobile also lost 176,575 data subscribers in August 2019 to 8.63 million from 8.80 million.

Other mobile telecoms – Globalcom and Airtel Nigeria marginally gained subscribers within the period under review.

Apart from its dropped in May 2019, MTN Nigeria recorded marginal growth in subscribers' data year-on-year, according to the data.

Business Insider SSA understands that Airtel Nigeria has consistently grown its subscribers' data since 2015. Since January 2019, India's Bharti Airtel firm, which recently listed on Nigerian bourse, has gained more than 2 million.

Also, between June and August 2019 - the period when the Big Brother Nigeria Show aired - the telecoms firm recorded 778,146 growth in subscribers. Airtel Nigeria was one of the key sponsors of the Show. 

These are some of the reasons behind its growth in 2019, maintaining its market share as the second-largest mobile telecom firm in Nigeria.

Another factor that may have hampered MTN Nigeria's internet subscription could be the recent xenophobic attacks in South Africa. The incident which resurfaced late August, expanded to Nigeria, resulting in reprisal attacks which led to the closure and destruction of some South African -originated businesses, including an MTN store in Ibadan Nigeria.

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