Various mobile networks in countries around the world sell subsidized phones. When will this happen in Nigeria?

When Will Nigerian GSM Networks Start Offering Subsidized Phones?

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Looking through all the news of new devices being made available on various networks across the world at subsidized prices, I had to ask myself, “When exactly will our networks begin offering subsidized phones with their services?

Come to think of it, purchasing a phone through a network here in Nigeria often means that you are paying more for it than if you purchased the device on the open market. Yes; just try getting a Blackberry from MTN, Glo or Zain!

For example, a strategy that a late-comer like Etisalat could use to generate new subscriptions is to offer subsidized phones (and lower tariffs) on a contract. Have they considered it?

Perhaps I am merely dreaming. But, back to my question… “When?” Does anyone know?


  1. That would really be a nice surprise if it could happen. But i doubt it will be a reality anytime soon. Simply because we dont have a system that works (among many other reasons). It’s a big risk to offer anyone a high end phone at a subsidised price even on a contract in Nigeria. However, if something could be worked out (hopefully with a not too stringent contract) it will be a GOLDMINE!

  2. I have often wondered why phones being sold by telco companies are so costly. Shouldn’t it be (even if its slightly) cheaper giving that they buy in bulk? Then again, nothing ever makes sense in Nigeria (most of the time).

  3. B4 that arrives currently the major telecoms firms inspite of their seemingly futile attempt in promoting mobile data usage have fallen short of properly making these plans attractive to the populace. Currently besides Etisalat none of them offer data bundle for mobile users, besides their pc users nothing is aimed at truly mobile users.
    I own a pc and a broadband connection at home but whilst away from home i would like to chat, check my emails and browse leisurely. And i think it would really help if their was something of a monthly data bundle 4 mobile users at a reasonable fee. Their current bundles are currently exorbitant for such usage

  4. Bayuze, I agree about the risk attached to giving out high-end phones. But is there anything stopping them from starting with low-end devices. Then subscribers who have built credit-worthiness over a year or two can qualify for higher-tier phones.

  5. Martinkem, you said that apart from Etisalat, none of the networks offer data bundles for truly mobile users. I am aware that Etisalat has such a bundle. Can you give more details please?

    Also, I know for certain that Zain offers a 100mb bundle for N1,000 monthly (see this news item), which amounts to 1 kobo per kb. Surely, that serves the needs of on-device only users. Then there’s also 1GB for N5,000 monthly.

  6. Yomi, that idea is noteworthy but how many Nigerians are willing (or even able) to meet the stringent conditions that will be set in a contract over a low-end phone worth maybe N10-15k total (am just assuming)? Just wondering but it is an idea worth pursuing…

  7. I think two things need to happen before telcos begin to offer subsidized phones to users. One of the reasons has already been touched on above albeit in passing – assessing credit worthiness and the other is the ability to collect subscriptions on a much easier basis (for the telcos). I believe that until a credit reference agency that is seen to be viable and well-bedded, telcos will not take the risk that they will offer expensive phones to Nigerians. Remember that although the phones are subsidized, you still end up paying for it over the length of the contract which may range from 12 months to 24 months. You should also get free minutes and texts from that but the calculation of the telcos is always that you will end up staying with thm rather than their competitors. Their first aim is to try and reduce churn, the idea of an existing customer leaving. Of course, in Nigeria most mobile users have a profile that’s more akin to multiple sim users as none of the networks in immune from random outages.

    So to summarize, if a robust credit reference agency where a telco can assess credit worthiness (based on your banking history, length of stay at current address, job type, income , existing loan service performance etc) and make that available to them and they can affect your credit score should you default on any payment, the main ingredients to facilitate subsidized phones will be there. And then, maybe just then, that era will begin…until then, we just have to make do with suffering and smiling along with them all!

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