Connecting Africa is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 3099067.

4G/5G

What's Next for Nigeria's Mobile Market?

Article Image
Blink and you might miss a significant shift in Nigeria's massive mobile market of about 155 million users.

The focus of recent attention has been Emerging Markets Telecommunication Services (EMTS), the country's number four mobile operator that had until very recently been backed by the giant Etisalat Group and which had built a subscriber base of almost 20 million customers, about 13% market share, using the Etisalat Nigeria brand. (See Etisalat Sets Brand Deadline for Nigeria Operator.)

But following the Etisalat Group's departure and negotiations over brand rights, EMTS has now relaunched as 9mobile -- a quick visit to the company's website makes the transition very clear. (See Etisalat Nigeria to Become 9Mobile.)

What is less clear is what will happen next.

In the past few weeks, the names of Orange and Vodafone have been suggested as potential new investors in EMTS, filling the void left by the Etisalat Group. (See Orange, Vodafone Eye Stake in Etisalat Nigeria – Report.)

Now, according to a report in India's Economic Times, Bank of America Merrill Lynch has suggested in a note to clients that Airtel Nigeria, the West African country's number three mobile operator with about 23% market share, has an opportunity to get involved in market consolidation activities.

Airtel Nigeria is the largest of Bharti Airtel's African operations (it is active in 15 markets across the continent) and could become a very significant operation, possibly even be the market leader, if it was to combine its business with one of the other mobile players in Nigeria. (See African Revamp Has Paid Off, Reports Airtel.)

The research note issued by Bank of America Merrill Lynch falls short of suggesting that Airtel Nigeria should merge or form a joint venture with EMTS, but if such a combination was to happen, that would create an operator with a market share of almost 36%, second only to market leader MTN (about 40% share) and well ahead of Globacom, which boasts a 24.5% market share. (Note: All statistics are based on end of year 2016 numbers.)

The team at Bank of America Merrill Lynch also notes, though, that Airtel is predisposed to forging alliances to create larger operators with greater economies of scale: In Ghana it is combining its operations with that of another pan-African mobile operator, Millicom.

So keep a close eye on the Nigerian market, which with annual service revenues in excess of US$7 billion (depending on exchange rate movements) and further growth potential, could be very lucrative in the years to come for operators that can balance costs, take new services to market and ramp up their subscriber bases without getting hamstrung with unmanageable debts, which is where EMTS came a cropper.

— Ray Le Maistre, Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, International Group Editor, Light Reading for Connecting Africa.

Innovation hub

Story

Connecting Africa Podcast: Ep. 8 – Edtech for the future of work

This week we are joined by Eyitayo Ogunmola, CEO of Utiva, which is a startup offering technology skills training to prepare young people for the the future of work.

Story

Hot startup of the month: Malawi's Converged Technology Networks

Startup Converged Technology Networks is focused on addressing the unmet demand for residential broadband Internet access in Malawi.

More Innovation hub

Latest video

More videos

Guest Perspectives

Story

Omdia View: October 2021

By Omdia Analysts

Across the Middle East and Africa, regulators are beginning to facilitate spectrum allocation to operators in the region for the deployment of new and innovative technology.

Story

Research Bites: Why Africans stop using mobile apps

By Chinedu Wilfred Okonkwo, Magda Huisman and Estelle Taylor

This article – in collaboration with the African Journal of Science, Technology, Innovation and Development – explores the reasons behind why Africans stop using certain mobile apps.

More Guest Perspectives

Partner perspectives

All Partner Perspectives

AfricaCom perspectives

Story

Digital inclusion as a catalyst for economic empowerment: Mastercard's Imelda Ngunzu

Mastercard's Imelda Ngunzu talks to Connecting Africa about how digital payment solutions and mobile money are transforming the lives of small business owners, women and marginalized groups in East Africa.

Story

Accelerating women in STEM: In conversation with GirlCode's Tinyiko Simbine

GirlCode co-founder and CFO Tinyiko Simbine talks about why it's important to help girls and young women excel in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Story

How Poa Internet is unlocking meaningful connectivity in East Africa

Poa Internet's CEO Andy Halsall shares his views on what it takes to develop last-mile connectivity and get Africans online in a meaningful way.

More AfricaCom perspectives

Flash poll

All polls

Archived webinars

Meeting SME’s where they are - Building inclusive ecosystems for Africa’s small business owners

Micro and small businesses have been, and still are, the spine and lifeblood of the African economy, making up 90% of businesses on the continent.

Many of these businesses have still been operating in traditional ways and serving non-digital customers. With Covid-19 expediting the digital transformation process, businesses - big and small - have been forced to adapt to operate successfully in a more digital-first environment.

To ensure that the digitalization of Africa’s market doesn’t leave micro and small businesses behind, digital solutions must be inclusive and create business-ready environments. But how can we ensure that African SMEs become digitally enabled?

In this webinar we will share from our own experience on how to create such an environment, and the actions we took in vcita to get there, including:

  • Closing the digital literacy gap through tech inclusion 
  • Making a positive impact on local communities
  • Building the foundations for digital inclusion and small business growth in a technology-accelerated world
  • Building the foundations for digital inclusion and small business growth in a technology-accelerated world

Register Here >>

More Webinars

Sponsored video

More videos

Like us on Facebook

Newsletter Sign Up


Sign Up