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Nigerian Telcos Face Potential Revenue Loss Due to Increase in Dormant Lines

Unused or abandoned lines on MTN, Airtel, Globacom, and 9mobile networks climbed to 96.7 million in February 2023. This is based on a report from the Nigerian Telecommunication Commission’s most recent subscriber statistics release (NCC), as seen on Nairametrics, a Nigerian business news agency.

Based on the NCC’s data, the four major mobile networks in Nigeria, (Glo, MTN, Airtel, and 9 Mobile) had a total of N323.6 million linked lines in February of this year. Yet, by month’s end, there were 226.8 million active lines throughout all four networks.

This demonstrates that telecom operators were able to generate income from 70% of their consumers throughout the evaluation period. A mobile line is deemed dormant if the user does not use it to initiate or receive calls or access data services within at least 90 days.

By December 2022, there were 94.4 million idle lines across mobile networks. A month later, the number surged to 95.2 million; in February, it surged to 96.7 million.

The increase in inactive lines may also impact Q1 income for mobile network operators, who were already expected to miss their revenue target due to the recent economic cash constraint.

As a result of the government’s policy requiring all users of SIM-enabled devices to link their National Identity Number or face being blocked, many Nigerians would have to quit their mobile lines in 2021.

While the exercise’s deadline was pushed back multiple times, millions of lines were affected from December 2020 to April 2022 as the government instructed carriers to block unconnected lines.

Many of the blocked lines have yet to be reactivated since some customers would prefer to buy new lines than go through the process of reactivating their old lines, adding to the pool of dormant lines.

Apart from the NIN issue, industry observers have ascribed the growing number of inactive lines to the ease with which SIM cards may now be acquired and dumped. According to them, MNOs were also contributing to the surge through their aggressive marketing approach of providing SIM cards to clients at little or no cost in some cases.

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