2016 was a momentous year for Mobile in Nigeria

In early 2016, I wrote a piece titled What to expect from the Nigerian mobile market in 2016. 2016 has cone to an end now and it is a good time to review Nigeria in 2016. Did my expectations happen? Did anything else outside of those expectations happen? Let’s find out.

Nigeria in 2016: Budget Smartphones

Just as predicted, the “budget” smartphone brands had a field day. This was despite the huge rise in prices of smartphones due to the high exchange rate during the year. The rising costs contributed to the massive sales that those brands experienced. Big brand phones were suddenly out of the reach of more people.

It is instructive that Infinix Mobility made a push for the high end of the market in 2016 with the release of the Zero 4 and Zero 4 Plus premium flagships. So, both TECNO and Infinix are shedding the toga of “budget” brands.

Nigeria in 2016

Nigeria in 2016: 4G LTE

This was perhaps the single most momentous sector of 2016 in the Nigerian mobile market. The following 4G networks were launched in the course of the year:

  1. Ntel 4G
  2. MTN 4G
  3. Glo 4G
  4. InterC 4G
  5. Etisalat 4G

Here is a list of all 4G networks in Nigeria.

Nigeria in 2016: Smartphones

This here was a sore point. Nigeria did not experience significant growth in the smartphone market. The country still has about 22 million smartphones, many of which are in the hands of the same person. You know how people own more than one line/smartphone.

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Nigeria in 2016: Apps

Just as with smartphones, apps remains a sour point for the Nigerian smartphone market. App uptake and usage is still abysmally low. It is mostly restricted to elite and middle class subscribers in the major cities.

Nigerian-developed apps are not making it big yet either. There were several new apps developed. None is in the big league yet.

Nigeria in 2016: Voice Calls

As expected, voice call tariffs dropped during the year. In an interesting twist, Glo now offers international calls to select countries at the same tariff as local voice calls.

Nigeria in 2016: Data Tariffs

Lastly, data tariffs dropped significantly during the year. For the first time, Nigerians could buy as much as 3.2 GB data for just N1,000. This was a huge one. The joy of affordable data was almost cut short by an NCC directive which would have led to a hike in data tariffs. The regulatory agency eventually backtracked on the directive.

Final Words

2016 was a phenomenal year for mobile in Nigeria. For the first time, with lower data tariffs and the launch of multiple 4G networks, wireless broadband internet is within the reach of the average Nigerian. The hardware sector was hard though. Phones are much more expensive than they were in the previous year.

Apps didn’t fare much better either. But with more affordable, faster mobile data, the future is hopeful for apps adoption and usage. We can expect more developers to take advantage of this development. Did I leave anything out? Let’s talk!

Mister Mobility

I started blogging about mobile in 2004 as a fun way to share my passion for gadgets and mobile services. My other interests include digital media, speaking and teaching, photography, travelling, and dancing.

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