Subscriber data falls from 22m to 16.8m


Despite the announcement of Teleology as the new preferred investor for the debt-ridden 9mobile (formerly Etisalat), the network witnessed acute subscriber flight of up to 23 per cent on its network between 2017 and January 2018, New Telegraph has learnt.

This was contained in the latest industry report by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) showing the customer status on each mobile network operators (MNOs) including MTN, Glo, Airtel and 9mobile.


According to the data, as of last December, the number of active subscribers on 9mobile network dropped to 16.9 million with further decline to 16.8 million in January this year.

The figure had fallen month-on-month from 22 million since early last year when the telecoms got enmeshed in a $2.1 billion syndicated loan crisis resulting in the commencement of its sales process to a new investor towards safeguarding its collapse.


The drop from 22 million to 16.8 million subscribers, represents over 23 per cent subscriber loss. It was gathered that while some subscribers have dropped using 9mobile lines, some have migrated to another revival network believed to be more sustainable to avoid perceived looming collapse of 9mobile despite intervention of the two regulators, the NCC and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).


Till date, official data showed that 9mobile’s market share now stands at 12 per cent from its earlier 15 per cent before the financial crisis reared its head last year. Also, Airtel has 37.2 million active subscribers, representing 26 per cent while Glo has 38.1 million (slightly over 26 per cent).

Due to acute loss of subscribers as a result of a sanction imposed on it in 2016 for violating the country’s subscriber registration rule, MTN network now has 53.4 million subscribers down from its previous over 62 million before the sanction. MTN’s current subscribers represent a 36 per cent of the total $70 billion telecommunications market in Nigeria.


Meanwhile, Smile Telecoms, one of the telcos shortlisted in the bid process for 9mobile sale, had recently described as “untidy” the manner in which Barclays Africa, financial advisors to the deal, has so far managed the transaction, and has called for a process review to ensure transparency.

Smile’s position was contained in a letter addressed to Barclays Africa, dated February 21, and signed by Templars; the company’s solicitors. In the letter, Smile expressed displeasure with the selection process for the preferred bidder and reserve bidder, and wondered why the selection of the preferred bidder was announced before the stated deadline of February 26, 2018, as earlier stated in a process letter to interested parties.


To ensure transparency in the bid process, Smile requested Barclays Africa to urgently provide a “practicable with verifiable (and preferably third-party authenticated) proof” that the party that has been selected, as the preferred bidder has, indeed, satisfied all the conditions precedent to that selection.


However, a letter, dated February 26, 2018, Barclays Africa replied Smile Telecoms and promised to “be in touch with Smile to discuss any updates on the transaction, to the extent considered necessary.”

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