Nigeria is becoming more and more connected as a country, but there remains a gap in telecom service. According to government figures, the amount of telecoms density ranking – a measure of the availability of phones and internet in any one area – dropped from a surplus to being under-serviced in 2019. There are many reasons behind this, but a lack of inward investment has been cited as one of the most relevant. In the face of substandard and lacking telecom investment, Nigerian business is getting creative to keep growing the size of the telecoms industry and enhancing public access thereafter.
According to The Guardian (Nigeria), experts have noted a decline in the amount of investment from both the government and Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), which is resulting in a freeze and backsliding of investments into the country’s telecoms networks. As with many parts of life, private investment is helping to bridge this gap. The likes of on-site phone networks providing business phones are giving a lifeline to small and medium enterprises within cities and more rural areas in the country. Building on from that, business smartphones and similar devices can provide invaluable telephone links in those deprived of them by a lack of investment.
A public desire
More often than not, public desire to have a product will drive investment in services and infrastructure. This may be a key driving force in Nigeria, as Pulse News have reported that over 179m are now subscribed to telephone services – many not actually receiving services as planned. In a country with a population of just over 190m, this represents a huge proportion of the population and a gigantic force within the market as a whole. As more families, and indeed individuals, become subscribed to telecoms, the interest of outside investment into the country’s telecoms services may become irresistible. With MTN already claiming 60m of the market, this may well just be their time to continue growing, especially when considering the place they now find themselves in when it comes to the regulatory situation of MTN.
Regulation inspiring business
Reuters recently outlined how the Nigerian authorities had rescinded their intention to take action against regional telecoms giant MTN over a $2bn tax dispute. While the relinquishment of this tax bill has been contentious amongst voters, independent onlookers have suggested that this may inspire foreign direct investment. While the long term effects of not pursuing this tax may be felt in other areas of governance, it will at least encourage businesses to get involved in Nigeria and help to solve the telecoms service issue currently dominating the country.
Nigeria is a huge country that is demanding telecoms service across all parts of its population. However, investment has reduced, leading to an under-utilisation of telecoms in areas that are calling out for it. As public desire calls out for more servicing by the industry, private investment in-country will blossom, hopefully leading to a situation where international business takes an active interest in the huge potential of the market.