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

Hot startup of the month: Pan-African fintech KamaPay

This month's hot startup is pan-African fintech KamaPay, which helps individuals and businesses make cross-border payments on the continent.

Story

Afretec awards $3.3M in grants to African research teams

The African Engineering and Technology Network (Afretec) has awarded grants worth $300,000 each to 11 university research teams across Africa to advance digital technologies.

More Innovation hub

Latest video

More videos

Sponsored video

More videos

Industry announcements

More Industry announcements

Flash poll

All polls

Africa Tech Perspectives

Story

Deep dive into East Africa's tech startup ecosystem

New survey reveals a lack of access to investors, reliance on international VCs and global recession trends as the biggest barriers for East African tech startups to access funds.

Story

Challenges and opportunities for women's tech careers

A new survey reveals that COVID-19, the cost-of-living crisis, skills shortages and a lack of mentorship have negatively affected women's career development over the past two years.

Story

Survey: Opportunities for Women in Tech

Take our new survey for women across Asia, Europe and Africa looking at the biggest challenges and opportunities for women-led enterprises and trends in tech careers for women.

More AfricaCom perspectives

Upcoming events

London Tech Week
June 13-16, 2023
Queen Elizabeth II Centre, Broad Sanctuary, London SW1P 3EE
Cybertech Africa 2023
August 1-2, 2023
Kigali Convention Center, Kigali, Rwanda
Africa Tech Festival, Home of AfricaCom and AfricaTech
November 13-16, 2023
CTICC, Cape Town
More Upcoming events

Guest Perspectives

Story

Omdia View: February 2023

By Omdia Analysts

In February 2023 key events in the Middle East and Africa included a major Internet project for Africa's underserved by Liquid Intelligent Technologies and Microsoft as well as a 5G launch in Tanzania – that and more in this month's Omdia View.

Story

Omdia View: July 2022

By Omdia Analysts

Kenya and Zambia move towards 5G with new spectrum allocations while Tunisie Telecom plans to shut down its 3G network - that and more in this month's Omdia View.

More Guest Perspectives

Partner perspectives

All Partner Perspectives

Like us on Facebook

Newsletter Sign Up


Sign Up