Market Research Logo

Nigeria - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Forecasts


Attention: There is an updated edition available for this report.

Africa’s largest telecom market with more than 110 million subscribers

Nigeria is one of the biggest and fastest growing telecom markets in Africa, attracting huge amounts of foreign investment, and is yet standing at relatively low levels of market penetration. Far reaching liberalisation has led to hundreds of companies providing virtually all kinds of telecom and value-added services in an independently regulated market. After a decade of failed privatisation attempts, the incumbent national telco Nitel and its mobile arm M-Tel are currently in liquidation.

The West African country has overtaken South Africa to become the continent’s largest mobile market with now more than 110 million subscribers, and yet market penetration stands at only around 70% in early 2013. Subscriber growth accelerated again in 2012, driven by lower prices and a growing demand for mobile broadband services. The rapid growth has led to problems with network congestion and quality of service, prompting the regulatory authority NCC to impose fines and sanctions. Every year the network operators are investing billions of US$ into additional base stations and fibre optic transmission to support the ever increasing demand for bandwidth.

Much of the remaining addressable market is in the country’s rural areas where network rollouts and operations are expensive. This in combination with declining ARPU levels is forcing the networks to streamline their operations and to develop new revenue streams from services such as third generation (3G) mobile broadband, mobile payments/banking, and others. Major infrastructure sharing and outsourcing deals have been concluded. Several LTE networks are being rolled out, but commercial launches have been hindered by delays with frequency spectrum allocations.

Nigeria is also the most competitive fixed-line market in Africa, featuring a second national operator (SNO, Globacom) and over 80 other companies licensed to provide fixed telephony services. The alternative carriers combined now provide over 85% of all fixed connections, the majority of which has been implemented using wireless technologies. This in combination with a unified licensing regime gives the network operators the opportunity to also enter the lucrative mobile market and has helped them to secure hundreds of millions of US$ in investments from local and foreign investors. However, fixed-wireless connections have declined in the past few years in favour of mobile services. This has prompted mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the sector, which is likely to continue in the coming years.

The arrival of a second international submarine fibre-optic cable (Glo-1) in 2009 and a third and fourth in 2010 and 2012 (Main-One and WACS) has broken the monopoly of Nitel’s notorious SAT-3/WASC cable and is revolutionising the country’s underdeveloped Internet and broadband sector by reducing the cost of international bandwidth by up to 90%. Additional submarine cables are scheduled to go online in 2013 and 2014. Significant consolidation has occurred among Internet service providers (ISPs) as new powerful players from the fixed-wireless and mobile sector have entered this market with 3G mobile and advanced wireless broadband services such as WiMAX. The Internet Protocol (IP)-based next generation networks currently being rolled out are enabling converged voice, data/Internet and video services, VoIP is already carrying the bulk of Nigeria’s international voice traffic. Applications such as e-commerce, online banking and e-payments, e-health, e-learning and e-government are rapidly evolving.

Although the market is one of the most competitive in Africa, the industry regulator is tightening price caps and mandating further reductions of interconnect rates. Following years of delays, mobile number portability (MNP) was finally introduced in 2013, promising to make the market even more competitive.

Market highlights:

The largest mobile market and the most competitive fixed-line market in the region;
Billions of US$ in investments per year, tens of thousands of new base stations to be built;
Major network infrastructure sharing and outsourcing deals;
Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) among smaller operators;
National telco Nitel/M-Tel in liquidation;
Regulator cracks down on poor quality of service;
New price caps and lower interconnection rates;
Number portability finally introduced;
Efforts to promote infrastructure sharing;
Spectrum auctions;
Several LTE networks preparing to launch;
Alternative carriers provide 85% of fixed connections;
New fixed-wireless licences planned in 2013;
National fibre backbone rollouts continue;
More bandwidth from new international submarine fibre optic cables;
Consolidation in the ISP sector;
Explosive growth of mobile broadband subscriptions;
Rapidly evolving digital media and digital economy.

Estimated market penetration rates in Nigeria’s telecoms sector – end 2013
Market | Penetration rate
Mobile | 77%
Internet | 47%
Fixed | 0.2%
(Source: BuddeComm based on various sources)


  • EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
  • KEY STATISTICS
    • Table Country statistics - 2013
    • Table Fixed-line network statistics - 2013
    • Table Internet provider statistics - 2013
    • Table Internet user statistics - 2013
    • Table Mobile statistics - 2013
    • Table National telecommunications authority
  • TELECOMMUNICATIONS MARKET
    • BACKGROUND
    • MOBILE MARKET
    • FIXED-LINE AND FIXED-WIRELESS MARKET
    • INTERNET AND BROADBAND MARKET
    • TELECOM INVESTMENTS
  • REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT
    • NIGERIAN COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION DECREE (NCCD)
    • NATIONAL TELECOMMUNICATIONS POLICY (NTP)
    • NIGERIAN COMMUNICATIONS ACT
    • WEST AFRICAN COMMON REGULATORY FRAMEWORK
    • CLASS LICENCE POLICY EXTENSION
    • REGULATORY AUTHORITY
      • Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC)
    • KEY REGULATORY ISSUES
      • Interconnection
      • Quality of service (QoS)
      • Environmental impact of telecom towers
      • Infrastructure sharing
      • No regulation on state level
      • Universal service
      • National emergency numbers
      • Mandatory NSE listing
    • TELECOM SECTOR LIBERALISATION
      • Table Number of telecom licences by category - April 2013
      • Globacom's SNO licence
      • Regional fixed-wireless access (FWA) licences
        • Table Regional FWA licensees
      • International gateway licences
      • Unified licensing regime
    • PRIVATISATION OF NITEL
      • Table Financial bids for Nitel/M-Tel, first and second round - 2010
      • IPO
      • Liquidation
    • SPECTRUM AUCTIONS
      • 3.5GHz
      • 800MHz
      • 2.5GHz and 700MHz
      • 450MHz
      • 3G mobile spectrum
      • LTE/WiMAX spectrum
  • FIXED NETWORK MARKET
    • FIXED-LINE MARKET AND INFRASTRUCTURE OVERVIEW
      • Fixed-line statistics
        • Table Fixed lines in service and teledensity in Nigeria - 1999 - 2013
        • Table Fixed and fixed-wireless lines in Nigeria by operator, market share - December 2012
      • Unified licensing regime
    • FIXED NETWORK OPERATORS IN NIGERIA
      • Nigerian Telecommunications Ltd (Nitel, defunct)
      • Globacom Ltd
      • VGC Communications, MTN
      • National Long-Distance Operators (NLDO)
      • Fixed-wireless network operators
        • Table Regional FWA licensees in Nigeria
  • TELECOMMUNICATIONS INFRASTRUCTURE
    • NATIONAL FIBRE OPTIC INFRASTRUCTURE
      • Backbone networks
      • Fibre to the Home (FttH)
    • INTERNATIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE
      • Submarine fibre
      • Terrestrial fibre
      • Satellite
  • INTERNET MARKET
    • OVERVIEW
    • INTERNET STATISTICS
      • Table Internet users and penetration rate in Nigeria - 2000 - 2013
      • Table International internet bandwidth in Nigeria - 2001 - 2011
    • LIMITED AVAILABILITY OF PCS
      • Stimulus programs
    • PUBLIC INTERNET ACCESS LOCATIONS
      • Mobile Internet Units (MIUs)
    • INTERNET EXCHANGE POINTS (IXP)
    • COUNTRY CODE TOP LEVEL DOMAIN (CCTLD) ADMINISTRATION
    • ISP MARKET
      • Internet Service Providers Association of Nigeria (ISPAN)
      • Selected ISPs
        • Table Hyperia Nigeria broadband pricing - 2013
    • VOIP INTERNET TELEPHONY
      • Nitel
      • Globacom
      • Starcomms
      • Adesemi Nigeria
      • MWEB Nigeria
      • Accelon
      • Linkserve
      • Layer3
      • Swift Networks
  • BROADBAND MARKET
    • OVERVIEW
    • ADSL
    • WIRELESS BROADBAND
      • Odu'a Telecom
      • Swift Networks
      • Startech Connection
      • Nitel
      • Netcom Africa
      • MWEB Nigeria
      • Gateway Communications
    • WIFI
      • Accelon, Internet Solutions
      • Jigawa Broadband Access Network
      • Polestar/5G WiFi network in Lagos
      • NaijaWiFi
      • Abuja WiFi, WiMAX
      • Enugu
      • Bharti Airtel
    • WIMAX
    • MOBILE BROADBAND
    • INTERNET VIA SATELLITE
      • Direct-on-PC
      • BroadbandDirect
      • IP Direct
      • MWEB Nigeria
      • Other services
    • BROADBAND OVER POWERLINES (BPL)
  • DIGITAL ECONOMY AND DIGITAL MEDIA
    • DIGITAL ECONOMY
      • E-commerce, e-payments
      • E-government
      • E-health
      • E-learning
      • Electronic Crimes Bill
    • DIGITAL MEDIA
      • Cable TV
      • Internet TV
      • Triple-play, NGN
      • Blogs
      • Facebook
  • MOBILE COMMUNICATIONS
    • OVERVIEW OF NIGERIA'S MOBILE MARKET
      • Mobile statistics
        • Table Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Nigeria - 1998 - 2013
        • Table Mobile subscribers in Nigeria by operator, technology - December 2012
    • REGULATORY ISSUES
      • GSM licence terms
      • Interconnection
      • Mobile tariffs
      • International gateways
      • Unified licensing regime
      • Universal service
      • Mobile number portability
      • Central equipment identity register
      • Poor quality of service
      • SIM card registration
      • Foreign ownership
      • Equal access for mobile content providers
      • Consumer protection against billing irregularities
    • MAJOR GSMMOBILE OPERATORS
      • MTN Nigeria
        • Table MTN Nigeria ARPU - 2002 - 2012
      • Bharti Airtel (formerly Zain/Celtel Nigeria)
        • Table Zain Nigeria ARPU - 2006 - 2009
      • Globacom
      • Etisalat Nigeria (EMTS, Mubadala)
      • M-Tel (defunct)
    • CDMA OPERATORS
      • Multi-Links Telkom
      • Reliance Telecommunications Ltd (Reltel, Zoom)
      • Starcomms Ltd (Capcom)
        • Table Starcomms Nigeria total and mobility/mobile subscribers - 2005 - 2012
      • Intercellular Nigeria Ltd
      • Visafone
    • MOBILE DATA SERVICES
      • SMS
      • MMS
      • GPRS, EDGE
      • WAP
      • CDMA2000 1x
      • BlackBerry
      • Mobile money transfer, m-banking
    • MOBILE TV
    • 3G
      • Licensing
      • Globacom
        • Table Glo Mobile Nigeria 3G HSDPA pricing - 2013
      • Airtel
        • Table Airtel Nigeria 3G HSPA+ pricing - 2013
      • MTN
        • Table MTN Nigeria 3G HSDPA pricing - 2013
      • Etisalat Nigeria
      • CDMA-2000 1x EV-DO
        • Table Visafone Nigeria CDMA-2000 1x and EV-DO pricing - 2013
    • LTE
    • SMARTPHONES
    • SATELLITE MOBILE
  • FORECASTS
    • FORECASTS - MOBILE SUBSCRIBERS - 2014; 2017
      • Table Forecast mobile subscribers in Nigeria - 2014; 2017
      • Notes on scenario forecasts

Download our eBook: How to Succeed Using Market Research

Learn how to effectively navigate the market research process to help guide your organization on the journey to success.

Download eBook

Share this report