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Nigerians Spend N2.6tn on Data and Airtime in 9 Months – REPORT

In the first nine months of 2023, Nigerian telecom users spent at least N2.59 trillion on airtime and data.

This is according to MTN Nigeria and Airtel Africa’s financial statements. This represented a 32.57 percent increase over the N1.95 trillion earned by both carriers in the same time in 2022.

The spike in voice and data venue was fueled in part by increased data subscriptions and Airtel’s devaluation of the currency. Airtel earned $1.41 billion from airtime and data in the first nine months of 2022. It amounted to N647.71 billion when converted at the current exchange rate of N461/$.

The company’s profits from these two revenue sources was $1.29 billion in 2023. It amounted to N1.003tn when converted at the time at the exchange rate of N777/$. MTN’s increased data revenues are fueling the company’s total revenue growth. Data sales increased by 36.36 percent year on year, while voice income increased by just 10.64 percent, showing an increase in Internet usage in the country.

MTN stated, “Data revenue grew by 36.4 percent due to increased usage and data conversion in new and existing base.”

According to the company, data traffic on its network increased by 29.1% over the time period under consideration. “Data usage (GB per user) increased by 29.1% to 8.6GB, and the number of smartphones on our network increased by 7.6%, bringing smartphone penetration to 53.4 percent, up 1.4 percentage points year on year.”

“Consequently, we recorded a 46.3 per cent growth in data traffic, with the 4G network accounting for 83.7 per cent of the total traffic (up 5.2pp YoY).”

On its part, Airtel recorded an increase in data usage per customer to 5.9 GB per month. The firm highlighted, “Data revenue grew by 29.3 per cent in constant currency, driven by data customer base growth of 17.4 per cent and data ARPU growth of 12.3 per cent.

“Data usage per customer increased by 23.8 per cent to 5.9 GB per month (from 4.8 GB in the prior period). Our continued 4G network rollout has resulted in nearly 100 per cent of all our sites delivering 4G services.”

Increased Internet usage as a result of increased video streaming increased telecom consumers’ spending on telecom services to N3.86tn in 2022. It was an 18.74% increase over the N3.25tn spent in 2021. Data usage in the country increased by 46.77 percent from 353,118.89TB in 2021 to 518,381.78TB in 2022.

Data consumption is likely to be the next frontier for telecoms growth and to continue to rise. Many analysts anticipate that in the next years, data sales will overtake voice revenues. According to the World Bank, increases in data service consumption by consumers and enterprises, as well as increasing subscriber numbers, are driving growth in the ICT sector.

“Sub-Saharan Africa is forecast to be the region with the highest growth in total mobile data traffic, rising by 37% annually between 2022 and 2028 as service providers across the continent continue to invest in 4G networks and migrate customers from 2G and 3G,” according to Ericsson’s Mobility Report (June 2023).

“This increase in data traffic will primarily be driven by a four times increase in smartphone traffic in the period, with average data per active smartphone settling at 19 GB per month in 2028.”

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