A total of 9.28 million telecommunication subscribers stopped using the Internet in 2021, data from the Nigerian Communications Commission have shown.
According to the regulator of the telecoms sector, the number of Internet subscribers fell to 141,617,023 in December 2021 from 150,898,122 in January 2021.
During the year, the total number of Internet subscribers fell to a low of 139,384,180 in July, and the number of Internet subscribers recorded in January remained the highest for the year.
MTN Nigeria Plc recorded the biggest loss of Internet subscribers (5,176,068) in 2021. The company began 2021 with 63,988,496 subscribers and ended with 58,812,428 subscribers.
Airtel lost 2,507,138 Internet subscribers, as the number of Internet subscribers dropped to 37,526,624 at the end of the year.
9mobile lost 1,127,391 Internet, as the number of its Internet subscribers fell to 5,752,702 at the end of the year.
Globacom lost 470,502 Internet subscribers, as the number of its Internet subscribers fell to 39,525,269 at the end of the year.
As a result of the decline in the number of Internet subscribers, broadband penetration in the country dropped from 42.93 per cent in January 2021 to 40.88 per cent in December 2021.
In 2021, telecommunication companies blamed the loss of subscribers on the Federal Government’s National Identity Number-Subscriber Identity Module data verification.
In its half-year report, MTN said, “Mobile subscribers declined by 7.6 million to 68.9 million, impacted by the regulatory restrictions on new SIM sales and activations.”
The company, however, said it was in support of the government’s NIN verification exercise.
In one of its quarterly reports, Airtel said, “New customer acquisitions were barred until significant progress had been made on linking the active customer base with verified NINs.
“Natural churn in the customer base led to a loss of two million active mobile customers in Nigeria in the first quarter of the year (following on from 2.5 million customer loss in the final quarter of the year to 31 March 2021).”
The Nigeria National Coordinator for the Alliance for Affordable Internet, Olusola Teniola had said, “The impact of the SIM-NIN policy will slow down growth. The NIN requirement will slow down the ability to register SIMs legally, which will affect contribution to NIN because not every Nigerian has NIN.”’