Nigeria: still Africa’s largest mobile market

A new report by Pyramid Research says Nigeria remains the largest mobile market in Africa and the Middle East, and with mobile penetration at only 66.3% in 2012, opportunities exist for operators to increase their subscriber base by investing in improving and expanding their networks.

The report, Nigeria: As Operators Invest in Networks, New Telecom Regulations Boost Competition, provides a detailed competitive analysis of both the fixed and mobile sectors, tracks the market shares of technologies and services and monitors the introduction and spread of new technologies.

"With four GSM operators and many smaller CDMA operators, Nigeria is one of the most competitive markets in the region," says Ousmane Yatera, Analyst at Pyramid Research.  The growth of the market is forcing operators to invest in capacity, upgrades and expansion of their networks in rural areas, all of which increase the costs of operation. This, together with reducing ARPS, is leading operators to look to streamline their processes. One way of doing this is via infrastructure sharing, a concept that is being supported by many operators in the country, he notes. 

The report says that Nigeria’s telecom sector generated $9.3bn in revenue in 2012. Operators in the mobile sector continue to invest in expansion of their networks to offer better quality and services to their existing and potential subscribers. The operators are expected to spend billions of dollars rolling out new infrastructure to reach untapped regions. For example, Globacom recently signed deals with Huawei and ZTE worth $1.25bn in total, and Etisalat in May 2013 secured a $1.2bn loan to fund its network expansion plans in Nigeria.

During the forecast period, Pyramid expects a moderate growth of 3.7% in local currency, equivalent to 1.6% in dollar terms. The mobile broadband segment is expected to grow at a CAGR of 28.1%, and mobile services in the country are expected to benefit handsomely from this development. With such a fast pace of growth for the market, an increase in congestion and a decrease in service quality is a concern for the regulator, which is expected to take further steps to ensure that subscribers are provided with the best of service.

Fixed service revenue, excluding pay-TV, is expected to contract at a CAGR of -22.2%, due to drops in fixed circuit-switched voice and Internet revenue streams. Pay-TV will be the only bright spot for the fixed sector and is expected to grow from $788m in 2012 to $914m by 2017.


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