Over 32.5 million Nigerians access the Internet via telecommunications networks, the Nigerian Communications Commission has revealed. The fast growing number is led by the rapid rise of smartphone adoption in the country led by aggressive marketing by smartphone device manufacturers such as Blackberry, Samsung and Huawei.
Nigeria’s largest mobile operator, MTN leads the pack with an estimated 21.3 million users or 65.9% of the overall market share. Airtel, Etisalat and Globacom significantly lag behind with about 5.9 million, 4.4 million and 800,000 users respectively.
CDMA operators such as Starcomms, Multilinks and Visafone significantly lag behind their GSM counterparts. Though Starcomms overall share of the Nigerian internet subscription market has declined markedly in recent months, Visafone has rapidly accelerated to capture the company’s declining share of the market. Overall, CDMA is a lagging category and Nigeria remains a largely GSM play.
MTN continues to be the nation’s dominant mobile operator in the voice and data category in Nigeria’s lucrative mobile market. The country is the company’s most profitable market making over $4.2 billion in revenue in FYE 2012. The company is prioritising its focus on data products as it continues to witness declining Average Revenue per User Rates in the voice and sms category. This trend has been led by social networking and instant messaging applications witnessing a huge surge in popularity across the continent such as Facebook, the South African instant messaging application, 2go, Blackberry Messenger, WhatsApp and a slew of other rising applications.
In response to the rising threat, the company has in recent times aggressively partnered with local content/app developers, notably Afrinolly, a mobile phone app focused on Nigeria’s entertainment industry.