Mobile penetration in Nigeria went down to around 77% ( - 7 p.p.YoY) mainly due to the continuing effect of the mandatory SIM card registration alongside the new regulation focusing on SIM registrations in fixed settlements starting 2017. Nonetheless, both Airtel and Globacom managed to somehow mitigate the impact as they continued to improve and launch new features. In particular, the former doubled the data allowance in its SmartConnect package starting 2017 at no extra cost to users to entice new subscriptions for the period.
Aside from this, the take-up of mobile data services also helped sustain the growth trend of mobile subscriptions for both operators considering the series of network (e.g. 4G LTE) expansions since 2016. MTN, Globacom, and 9mobile all launched their respective LTE services in 2016, followed by Airtel who has already launched its networks in Ibadan (February 2018) and Abuja (May 2018). InfoCom expects these expansions to continue propelling the take-up of mobile data services and consequently help buoy mobile subscriptions by an average of 7% annually until 2023. Moreover, the pressure brought about by the 2018 deadline of the National Broadband plan is also expected to elicit faster adoption of mobile broadband services. Note that mobile broadband remains to be the dominant platform compared to fixed in Nigeria, as the latter’s development remained to be relatively slow. In fact, the regulator reported that there were only around 38 000 km of fibre broadband networks in the country- way below the 120 000 km requirement to generally boost fixed broadband penetration.