MTN, Airtel, others lose 3.55 million subscribers in one month


MTN, Airtel, Glo and 9mobile lost over 3.55 million data subscribers in March 2021. This is according to information obtained from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

The total number of subscribers of the four major telecommunication outfits dropped from 148,133,233 at end of February 2021 to 144,581,026 at the end of March 2021.

The decline in the number of telco subscribers could be attributed to the recent suspension of SIM card sales and registration, as Nigerians grapple with the stress of registering for and obtaining their national identity numbers.

Top losers in the Telecoms Market


Between February 2021 and March 2021, MTN Nigeria lost a total of 1.27 million data subscribers. At the end of March 2021, MTN had 61.57 million data subscribers, down from 62.84 million data subscribers in February 2021.

Between December 2020 and February 2021, the Telco giant lost a total of 4.67 million subscribers. This represents a 5.7% reduction in mobile subscribers.

At the end of February 2021, MTN had 77.35 million mobile subscribers, accounting for 39.5% of the total subscriber base in the country.


Airtel lost a total of 1.17 million data subscribers between February 2021 and March 2021. The figures dropped from 38,956,026 to 37,778,569 subscribers.

Airtel had a total mobile subscriber base of 57.23 million as at November 2020, which had dropped to 51.43 million at the end of February 2021.

What you should know

The others, Globacom and 9mobile, also suffered from the drought, as they lost a total of 892,821 and 214,070 data subscribers respectively.

Sources had reported that the four major telco players in Nigeria lost a total of 11.8 million customers since the implementation of NIN-SIM card ban by the Federal Government in December 2020.

Research conducted an analysis of the likely losses incurred by GSM companies due to the SIM Card registration ban. A cursory look at historic data shows that Nigerian GSM companies recorded an average of 2.32 million additional subscribers each month for the first 10 months of 2020.

Assuming the same incremental rate at a selling price of N100 per new sim card, these GSM Telcos may have lost about N1.1 billion in sim card sales between December 2020 and April 2021 due to the ban.

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