Major African Mobile Markets: Nigeria

Nigeria has a vast population base of more than 190 million people, more than France and the UK combined, and a rich cultural diversity with approximately 250 ethnic groups living in this one country. 

Nigeria's economy is dependent on both agriculture and oil earnings. The country is currently undergoing several economic reforms and faces issues with the privatisation of different industries. Political instability, a high level of dependence on oil reserves, which are affected by world price variations, a large population base and many other factors have slowed the economic growth of Nigeria.

The government took various initiatives during 2003-2004 to boost economic growth in Nigeria, such as deregulating fuel prices, the privatisation of the country's four oil refineries, etc., and as a consequence, GDP rose significantly.

Table 1 provides an overview of the country's key economic parameters.


Table 1: Nigeria - Important Economic Parameters (2017) 

Economic Parameter Value
Population 190.63 Million
Population Growth Rate 2.43 Percent
Unemployment Rate 13.4 Percent
GDP (PPP) $394.8 Billion (2016 Est)
GDP Real Growth Rate 0.8 Percent
FDI Inflows 4.43 Billion

Source: CIA Factbook


Segment Subscribers (Millions) Penetration
Fixed-line 142.32 75.5%
Internet (GSM) 94.82 49.70%
Internet (CDMA) 30.31 15.90%
Internet (Fixed Line) 11.9 6.20%

Source: NCC for subscription numbers

Penetration rate calculated on CIA population estimate for 2017




2 CIA Factbook


Year End Subscribers Year End Subscribers
2005 20.13 2012 112.78
2006 29.46 2013 127.25
2007 41.66 2014 139.41
2008 62.72 2015 150.84
2009 73.10 2016 154.38
2010 87.30 2017E 136.49
2011 95.17    

Source: Blycroft 2018

Figure 1 illustrates the trends and forecasts for mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Nigeria for the 12-year period from 2005 to 2017.

Figure 1: Nigeria - Mobile Subscribers and Penetration (2005-2017)

Source: NCC

Mobile Network Operators

Nigeria's mobile market is competitive in nature with four operators providing mobile services. However, the three leading operators together accounted for more than 90 percent of the country's total subscribers at the end-November 2005, and the fourth operator is a much smaller player in the market.

Figure 2 provides the market share of the various operators in Nigeria's mobile market in terms of subscriber base early 2017.

Figure 2: Nigeria - Market Share of Mobile Network Operators (1Q 2017)

Nigeria - Market Share of Mobile Network Operators (1Q 2017)

Source: Company Reports


Table 4 provides an overview of the operator's key performance indicators.

Table 4: MTN Nigeria - Key Performance Indicators (2016)

Subscribers 61.9 Million
Revenue R47,122 Million
Net additions (September 2016) 120,000

Technology Coverage:


89.79% population
3G 62.05% population
LTE 11.04% population