The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) have released information that Nigerians spent N2.68 trillion from January to October 2017 on airtime only.
According to data released by the two bodies, Nigerian economy may be crashing but Nigerians still manage to spend a massive amount of their income on airtime on their mobile devices, which they use to access both voice and data services from the mobile network operators.
Nigerians purchased airtime across different platforms. These platforms include the physical recharge card option, the virtual top-up (VTU) done through USSD code, subscribers’ bank accounts domiciled on mobile devices, vending on web-based platforms as well as on Automated Teller Machines (ATMs).
Most of these platforms have made it easier for Nigerians to quickly access airtime top up platforms from the comfort of their precise locations which may account for Nigerians spending more on airtime now more than ever.
In January 2016, the active subscriber base on mobile networks stood at 155.1 million. They spent N285.6 billion on airtime in January.
In February and March 2016, when active subscribers stood at 154.1 million and N154.4 million and with the ARPU of N1842, the estimated consumer spending were N283.8 billion and N284.4 billion, respectively.
Also airtime spending in April, May and June were estimated at N274.8 billion; N267.6 billion and N263.4 billion when active telephone users across different mobile networks seated at 149.2 million; 145.3 million and 143 million in that order.
Further, operators also raked in N256.2 billion and N256.7 billion in July and August as declining subscribers dropped to 139.1 million and 139.4 million.
By September and October, when active subscribers were 139.9 million and 140.7 million, the amount spent by these subscribers on airtime purchase were estimated at N257.6 billion and N259.1 billion, respectively.
Last year, NCC Executive Vice Chairman, Prof. Umar Danbatta, at the launch of NCC Year of Consumer, disclosed that Nigerian subscribers spent $5.6 billion in 2015 and $6.6 billion in 2016 which adds up to $12.2 billion (N3.66 trillion) in the space of two years.
“In 2015, Nigerian telecom consumers spent a whopping $5.6 billion on telecommunications services. And in 2016, they topped it up by another $1 billion to make it $6.6 billion.”
Similarly, it was reported last year that over N197 billion is spent by Nigerians on internet data every month. The latest Monthly Subscriber/Operator Data released by the regulator in August 2017 showed that MTN had 58,121,427 users, and Glo 37,270,100 customers, Airtel, 34,336,802 while 9mobile had 19,621,806 users. The remaining figures were shared between the other smaller operators.
But only 92 million of the 149.5 million subscribers are active internet users, and they depend on data provided by the telcos to access the world-wide-web and hook on to the social media, information on the NCC’s website showed.
As at June, MTN had 31.7 million internet users; Glo, 27.2 million; Airtel, 20.2 million while 9mobile had 12.6 million, and the smaller operators shared the remaining figures.
About 70% of internet users or 64 million use up to N1000 data monthly each, raising the operators’ revenue base by N64 billion.
Also, about 15% or 13.8 million users, mostly small business owners and middle class people, each purchase an average of N3000 data monthly, contributing N41.1 billion every month to the telcos’ coffers.
Similarly, 10% of the internet subscribers or 9.15 million use N5000 each every month, growing the operators’ revenue by N45.6 billion.
About 5% of the internet customers or 4.6 million buy N10,000 data each, increasing the GSM and mobile internet companies’ revenue by N46 billion, according to findings.
Over N2.3 trillion is garnered through data alone by the telcos every year, according to the monthly data revenue figures.