Operators record slow growth in Q1 as services remain poor
• MNOs lost 2.7m subscribers • Stakeholders blame economy
Statistics from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has shown a stagnant growth profile of the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in the country for quarter one 2017.
The quarterly data indicates how well or otherwise each service provider performed in terms of attracting new subscribers or customers, while also retaining existing ones within the three-month review period. Such statistics also show which operator is leading in the market.
According to The Guardian checks, the MNOs, which include MTN, Globacom, Airtel and Etisalat, recorded a negative growth performance of 1.38 per cent on the average. The operators had recorded a 2.45 per cent growth rating in Q3, 2016 and managed to have 0.84 per cent growth profile in Q4, 2016.
Specifically, for Q1, 2017, only Airtel had a positive growth rating, which it had maintained since quarter three of 2016. The Sunnil Bharti-Mittal owned telecommunications firm, with headquarter in India had 2.49 per cent growth rating in Q3, 2016; 4.09 per cent in Q4, 2016 and 1.58 per cent in Q1, 2017.
Further analysis of the NCC statistics showed that MTN, which grew by 3.69 per cent in Q3, 2016 and 2.12 per cent in Q4, 2016, fell by a negative 2.34 per cent in Q1, 2017. The same goes for Globacom, which recorded 1.78 per cent in Q3, 2016; 1.06 per cent in Q4, 2016 and a negative 0.08 per cent in Q1, 2017.
Perhaps, due to the loan challenges it is having with some Nigerian banks, Etisalat’s performance appeared weakest. In Q3, 2016, it recorded 0.29 per cent growth, fell to a negative 7.65 per cent in Q4, 2016 and another negative rating of 5.71 per cent in Q1, 2017.
This poor performance across board also affected the country’s teledensity, which fell from 110.09 per cent in February to 108.91 per cent in March. Though, the country’s connected telephone lines grew to 240 million, however, active lines fell from 154.6 million in January to 151.9 million in March, which showed that about 2.7 million subscribers have become inactive.
While the MNOs growth rate stunted, quality of service has remained extremely poor both in voice and data services since the beginning of the year, with complaints coming from all across the country.
Earlier in the week, MTN Nigeria, which controlled 40 per cent of the market share and 60 million subscribers, had to send a text to its subscribers, which read: “Dear Customer, we apologise for the difficulty you are currently experiencing using our Internet services. Please bear with us while this is being resolved.”
On Monday, the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, while appearing before the House of Representatives Ad hoc Committee investigating the telecoms industry, admitted that though there had been slight improvement in the quality of service by telecoms operators compared to now, the overall level of improvement still remained low and of great concern.
He said operators have continued to violate the mandatory one per cent drop call limit set for them by the commission.
Consequently, he disclosed that the commission would soon unleash tougher sanctions on specific operators that have shown little or no commitment to enhancing their service quality.
Danbatta added that the commission would soon publish a ranking index for all telecoms operators indicating their service quality strength, with a view to stimulating competition among them.
Meanwhile, a telecoms expert, Kehinde Aluko, blamed the downward profile and stunted growth of MNOs on the current economic situation, particularly, the issues of forex, stressing that so many of the operators are having difficulty getting foreign currency to roll out services.
The Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) through its president, Olusola Teniola, called for the review of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s list, especially those items critical to the growth of the IT/telecoms sector of the economy.
Teniola, stated that the apex bank should revisit the list of 41 items with a view to exempting a few, especially the IT/Telecoms items, considered critical to the sector.
The ATCON President, while assessing the apex bank’s management of the forex crisis, said that the restrictions on a number of items has impacted expansions and other projects in the industry, thereby leading to poor quality of service (QoS).