Despite recession, telecoms maintains positive growth, contributes N1.58trn to GDP in Q2
In real terms, the telecommunications sector contributed N 1,580 billion to GDP in the second quarter of 2016, or 9.8%, which represents an increase of 1.0% points relative to the previous quarter. This is the largest contribution to GDP made from this sector in the rebased period, which emphasises that growth in telecommunications has remained robust when compared to total GDP. However due to differing seasonal patterns, the contribution from telecommunications is usually the largest in the second quarter.
Although growth in the telecommunications sector remained positive, in contrast with the economy as a whole, year on year growth nevertheless dropped in real terms from 5.0% in the previous quarter to 1.5%, the lowest rate since 2011 Q3.
The share of telecommunications in total real GDP had declined throughout 2010 to 2014, but for the last five quarters growth in telecommunications has been higher, meaning the trend has reversed.
The total number of subscribers has increased rapidly over the past decade; at the end of 2005 there were 19,519,154 subscribers, but by the end of 2015 there were 151,017,244, which is equivalent to an increase of 13,149,809 every year. However, growth has been declining more recently, possibly as a result of high market penetration leaving less room for large expansion.
In June 2016 – the end of the second quarter – there were 149,803,714 subscribers compared with 148,775,410 in June 2015, which represents an increase of 0.69%. The yearly increase in total subscriber numbers has been decreasing steadily for the past year; in June 2015 the year on year increase was 12.05%. However, after falling between January and April 2016, the number of subscribers began to increase again, and in June the number was 0.71% higher than at the end of the first quarter in March.
This increase is despite a sharp drop in CDMA subscribers; between June 2015 and June 2015 the number fell from 2,105,981 to 454,092, a decrease of 78.44% (explored further below). Although CDMA remains the second most popular technology type, this decrease has meant that the GSM technology type has entrenched its position as the dominant provider of mobile
Subscriber data is broken into four sections according to the technology type used. The first two are for mobile technology; Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) and Core Division Multiple Access (CDMA), whilst the latter two are fixed lines, either wireless or wired. Mobile subscribers using GSM dominate, and accounted for 99.58% of the total in June 2016, followed by CDMA with 0.30% of the total, whist fixed wired and wireless make up 0.08% and 0.03% respectively. The dominance of GSM users has increased since June 2015 when 98.46% of subscribers used this technology type, however this increase was largely as a result of the decline in CDMA users over the second quarter of 2016. The proportion of subscribers using fixed lines has remained broadly stable over the past year, albeit at very small levels.
With GSM technology, it is cited as being easier to switch networks, and it is regarded as being more accessible for international use, especially given that some markets (such as in Europe) have mandated the technology by law. However, CDMA is more prevalent in the United States.
In June 2016, the total number of GSM subscribers was 149,179,083, an increase of 2,692,267, or 1.84% relative to June 2015. In both percentage and absolute terms, the year on year increases in GSM subscriber numbers have been falling steadily over the past 12 months. In March 2016, the year on year growth rate was 4. 06%, and in June 2015 the rate was 12.22%. However, the number of GSM subscribers increased throughout the second quarter of 2016, from 146,866,356 in April.
The second quarter of 2016 saw a partial reversal of trends that had been recorded since August 2015. After declining between then and March 2016, the number of MTN and Etisalat subscribers began to increase again; the number of MTN subscribers rose from 57,045,721 to 58,409,767 between March and June 2016, and Etisalat subscriber numbers rose from 21,877,542 to 22,469,896 over the same period. These changes represent quarter on quarter growth rates of 2.39% and 2.71% respectively, although year on year growth rates were still negative, at -7.01% for MTN and -1.67% for Etisalat.
Airtel also witnessed a reverse in trend. In the second quarter of 2016 the provider recorded growth of -5.57%, following consistent positive growth since August 2014. Nevertheless, the year on year growth was positive at 8.17%, and there was a slight increase between May and June of 0.44%. Airtel ended the quarter with 31,978,848 subscribers.
By contrast, Globacom continued their uninterrupted growth in subscriber numbers. With the highest quarter on quarter growth and and year on year growth rates of 4.95% and 16.20% respectively, Globacom also recorded the largest increases in absolute terms by both measures. At the end of the second quarter Globacom had 36,320,572 subscribers.