Telecoms & IT

Over the past decade Nigeria has become the largest telecoms market in Africa and the Middle East, with more than 140m active telecoms subscribers in 2015, according to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the federal telecoms regulator. As is the case elsewhere in frontier and emerging markets, mobile subscribers accounted for over 99% of this total, with virtually all of that segment controlled by the country’s four GSM operators: MTN Nigeria, Airtel Nigeria, Globacom and Etisalat Nigeria. Nigeria’s overall telecoms capacity is relatively high – a number of high-capacity submarine cables come ashore in the country – but bringing this capacity into people’s homes remains a major hurdle. Yet despite the challenges, most indicators point to continued expansion. Taking into account the nation’s large population and solid economic fundamentals, most local players are counting on continued rapid telecoms uptake. In the past five years Nigeria has grown into one of Africa’s largest and most vibrant markets for ICT products and services, with an ecosystem that ranges from software start-ups to infrastructure firms. According to the Federal Ministry of Communication Technology, the federal oversight body, the nation accounts for 29% of all internet usage on the continent, and this figure is expected to rise. Despite the rapid pace of growth in recent years, the industry faces a host of challenges, including low penetration in terms of both usage and infrastructure access, high operating costs and a lack of local content. Nevertheless, most Nigerian ICT players are looking forward to continued growth ahead. This is due in part to the significant scope for expansion in terms of potential bandwidth – thanks to a total capacity of nearly 10 Tbps, most of it unused, through the existing submarine cables.

This chapter contains interviews with Omobola Johnson, Minister of Communication Technology, and Issam Darwish, Executive Vice-Chairman and CEO, IHS Group.

Cover of The Report: Nigeria 2015

The Report

This chapter is from the Nigeria 2015 report. Explore other chapters from this report.

Interviews & Viewpoints

Sketch of  OBG talks to Issam Darwish, Executive Vice-Chairman and CEO, IHS Group
Issam Darwish, Executive Vice-Chairman and CEO, IHS Group: Interview