Photograph — CFO India

Recent data from Nigeria’s communications regulator shows that the number of internet subscribers, broadband penetration, and subscriptions all grew in the month of June, compared to the same period last year.

Total number of broadband subscriptions grew 23.9 percent year-on-year and by 2.8 percent from the previous month to 78.8 million subscriptions while broadband penetration rose to 41.3 percent, from 33.31 percent in June 2019 and 40.1 percent in May.

The number of internet subscribers maintained an upward trend as well, up 1.8 percent month-on-month and 17.2 percent from last year June to 143.7 million subscribers, according to industry statistics collated by the Nigerian Communications Commission.

Subscription figures had fallen in the previous months as jobs and household income took a hit at the height of lockdown measures meant to curb the coronavirus pandemic from March through May. This was despite the increase in demand for mobile and data services needed for virtual meetings, remote working, video conferences, e-commerce, and online religious activities in line with social distancing rules.

The reported rebound, in spite of the adverse impact of the global pandemic on various sectors in the economy, could be due to the gradual reopening of the economy and reflects the resilience of the telecoms sector, which cuts across different segments of the industry, Lagos-based CSL Stockbrokers said in a note.

“Industry players in the telecommunications sector continue to invest heavily in internet infrastructure in a bid to improve 4G LTE coverage across the country while heightened competition among industry players for market share has also forced bundle prices lower, making internet usage very attractive to the average Nigerian,” CSL said.

The stockbroker expects further growth in the sector based on social, demographic, and macroeconomic factors, driven by the ongoing coronavirus crisis that has had considerable impacts on all spheres of life across the world.

“With the advent of the global pandemic, we believe the growing use of digital channels for daily routine activities ranging from telecommuting, entertainment, and social engagement bodes well for continued growth in internet penetration,” it said. “This will be further supported by increasing smartphone penetration, favorable country demographics, and a fledgling social media culture.”

The mobile market should continue to witness positive growth but the sector still requires more investment to bring it to the same level with more developed climes, CSL Stockbrokers said, noting that with internet penetration in Nigeria still below 50 percent (39.58 percent as of April 2020), there is “significant potential” for telecom and internet service providers in the country.

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