Nigeria’s telcos lose $325 million as subscribers abandon SIM cards, says report

Nigeria’s main mobile network operators (MNOs), Airtel, MTN Nigeria, 9Mobile, ntel and Globacom, are said to be losing a substantial amount of potential revenues every month to the rapidly rising number of abandoned SIM cards in the country.

According to a report by business a.m., an online news platform, as the total number of inactive SIM cards rose to 85.49 million at the end of October 2019, the total monthly figure lost by Nigeria’s telcos amounted to $325 million.

Experts in the industry say that by Nigerian telecoms industry standards, a SIM card becomes inactive after the subscriber fails to use it for 90 consecutive days.

Data compiled by the industry regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) showed that since the inception of GSM services in the country, over 265.61 million telephone lines had been sold and connected by the country’s MNOs including Airtel, Globacom, MTN, nTel and 9Mobile.

Analysis of the latest industry figures from the NCC shows that within the first ten months of 2019, approximately 6.33 million lines were made redundant by their owners despite the 7.63 million new lines that were activated.

Nigeria’s mobile operators have also been accused of contributing to the rising number of inactive telephone lines in the system because some of their sales agents are often spotted aggressively giving out SIM cards to potential and existing customers for free.

Some subscribers confessed to business a.m. during informal conversations that they sometimes would activate a SIM card just to enjoy a promo service that is being offered at that time by an operator, after which they would ditch the telephone lines.

According to the President of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Olusola Teniola, the loyalty of prepaid customers to their networks is almost non-existent; hence, it is easy for them to abandon a line and change to another one.

In the new plan of action, NCC said that it would conduct regular audits in order to track the level of utilisation of phone numbers assigned to operators.


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