Telecommunication subscribers left 98.75million registered SIMs unused in the month of July, according to new industry statistics from the Nigerian Communications Commission.
This is as the total number of SIMs in circulation remained over 300 million (307.36 million) for the third consecutive month in 2021. Also, the total number of active lines sustained its ascendency to 208.61 million in July, with 2.52 million new subscribers joining the national active network in July. In June 2022, there were 98.89 million registered SIMs that were unused. That month there were 304.98 million SIMs in circulation, and only 206.08 million of them were active.
This follows a sustained shake-off of the effect of the National Identification Number and Subscriber Identity Module policy on the telecoms industry, with active subscribers growing by 11.27 per cent (21.13 million) year-on-year. According to the NCC and National Identity Management Commission, one Nigerian could have more than one SIM registered in their name.
Explaining unused lines to the correspondent earlier, the Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria, Gbenga Adebayo, had said, “It is a combination of many things. It could be people having multiple lines that they do not use. Traditionally, a lot of people carry more than one phone. Some have an office line; some have private lines but use one more often than the other. Some are in the Diaspora, who though they hold Nigerian SIM cards, are not residents here. Some are students, who for half of the term are not around. It also depends on how and why these lines are said to be unused; and for what period, because you could have someone not using their lines for three months, and after three months start to use them again.”
Despite growth in the number of unused lines, experts have at numerous times said sustained data usage was driving the increase in the number of active lines.
The Chief Operating Officer, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria, Ajibola Olude, stated, “One is the continuous adoption and utilisation of telecom services. In some secondary and primary schools today, they deliver education services via telecom platforms. There is also the emergence of Internet of Things in the nation. Smart homes need SIMs for every gadget in them, which is also contributing to the growth in the active subscriber base.”
The President of the National Association of Telecoms Subscribers, Adeolu Ogunbanjo, had earlier said, “This is because many businesses are now online and, fortunately, the SIM-NIN thing does not affect your data processes. So that is continuously on the growth side, but voice calls have been on a decline because about 70 million subscribers can still not make calls. The growth in subscriber base is because many Nigerians are now exploring getting their traders online. Also, a lot of traders now use Instagram and WhatsApp.”