Its official, Nigeria has become the largest telecommunications market in Africa and Middle East. The West African nation ended the 1st quarter with 51,7 million mobile connections by the end of August the country hit 55 million subscriber mark, this according to Vice Chairman of Nigerian Communications Commission, Ernest Ndukwe.
This Day reported today tha this makes Nigeria the 18th largest market in the world. South Africa which is now nearly 100% penetrated has less than one third of Nigeria’s population (44m v 138m) and is likely to drop to third place soon.
Iran with a population of more than 70m has moved from sixth to third over the course of last year and is adding customers four times as quickly as the RSA.
Cellular News reports that Egypt retains fourth position, with a total of 30.8m, up from 29.4m in March. The market here has been boosted by the arrival of a third entrant, though as is so often the way, the newcomer’s advertising budget merely serves to strengthen the incumbents.
In the 13 months since Etisalat launched, it has built a base of 2.5m customers, but both Vodafone and Mobinil have comfortably exceeded this with additions of 4.25m and 5.62m respectively.
Algeria and Saudi Arabia have both been pushed down the rankings by Iran to fifth and sixth. Algeria passed the 30m mark this quarter, to end with 30.8m, while Saudi Arabia stopped just short of 30m, at 29.8m.
The market here has a significant element of seasonality to it as more than a million pilgrims enter the country every year for the Haj, only to depart a few days later leaving their newly acquired SIMs inactive once more. Morocco, Kenya and Iraq all retain the same places as at March and, indeed, as of June 07. Morocco stands at 21.4m, compared to 20.51m at March, Kenya at 14.3m and Iraq, 12.75m. Tanzania, the tenth country on the list, has 10.1m customers after adding over 850k new connections in the quarter.
All ten of the top ten are into eight figures, while a further 13 countries have bases of 5m or more. In fact, such has been the spread of mobile across the region that no fewer than 52 markets have a total of more than one million customers. Of the 18 that do not, two are just under the number, while seven of the rest are small islands with populations of well below one million.
As we saw in our review of the AsiaPac region last week, the developing world remains buoyant in the face of the West’s financial meltdown.