The telecommunications sector posted a single-digit growth in the first quarter (Q1) 2021, as the ban on sales of subscriber identity module (SIM) cards slowed down performance within the period,according to a report released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
According to the NBS report released on Sunday, figures from the Q1 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) showed that the information and communication sector recorded a growth rate of 6.47 percent, first single-digit growth since Q1 2020.
The performance in the sector was a result of a 7.69 percent sluggish growth in the telecommunications sub-sector — single-digit growth since Q1 2020 — when it recorded 9.71 per cent growth.
The telecommunication sector was one of the most resilient sectors during the COVID-19-induced economic recession.
In December 2020, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, directed the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to audit the subscriber registration database.
The policy denied new entrants into the country access to purchase mobile lines, while existing users who want to retrieve their lost lines were unable to do so.
The NCC recently extended the national identification number (NIN) and SIM integration exercise till June 30.
Data from the NCC show that MTN Nigeria, the largest network by market share, lost 4.84 million and Globacom lost N1.92 million subscribers within the first quarter of the year.
Also, Airtel Nigeria lost 5.26 million subscribers, while 9mobile lost 131, 766 subscribers within the same period.
According to NCC, subscribers in Nigeria’s telecoms market declined by over 12 million in Q1 2021.
The NBS report said the nation’s GDP grew marginally by 0.51 percent in the first quarter of 2021, indicating a slow but continuous recovery.
This makes it two consecutive quarters of growth following the negative growth rates recorded in the second and third quarters of 2020. In the fourth quarter of 2020, GDP grew by 0.11 percent.
The report shows that the oil sector recorded a decline of 2.21 percent (year-on-year) in Q1 2021, while the non-oil sector grew by 0.79 percent in real terms in Q1 2021.
“Growth in the non-oil sector was driven by the Information and Communication (Telecommunication) sector, while other drivers include Agriculture (Crop Production); Manufacturing (Food, Beverage & Tobacco); Real Estate; Construction and Human Health & Social Services,” the report stated.
(Additional report from the cable.ng)