It is no news that the four mobile networks, MTN Nigeria, Airtel Networks, Glo Mobile, and 9Mobile, together account for a huge chunk of mobile internet subscriptions in Nigeria. 99%, as a matter of fact, says Asoko Insight. Quick question for another day: How will Smile, ntel, Swift and Spectranet (altogether with a 1% market share) compete with the big four?

But the Asoko Insight report sheds more light and says, “Of those subscribing to the four major operators, just 38 million are smartphone users, with MTN accounting for more than one third of the total. Airtel and Glo have almost equal number of subscribers falling into this segment.” The report says 38 million smartphone users. So, how did we arrive at 25 million smartphone users in Nigeria?

smartphone users in Nigeria and Market Share (Q4 2017)

Smartphone Users In Nigeria vis-a-vis Multiple SIMs

But Asoko Insight also has this to say: “However, the penetration figure can be misleading: as is common across the continent, subscribers will often hold multiple SIM cards on different networks to take advantage of price differentials and variations in network quality. Subscriptions cannot, therefore, be conflated with subscribers.”

Exactly the same thing I have said for years. So, we need to factor in dual SIM smartphones to arrive at a more accurate figure for smartphone users in Nigeria.

According to OpenSignal, dual-SIM Android devices account for 66% of the Android market in Nigeria. That means that it is likely that 66% of those 38 million subscribers are using a dual SIM smartphone. In other words, we are looking at 25 million unique subscribers with smartphones.

So roughly 60% of the said 38 million smartphones house two active SIM cards. That brings the number of smartphone users down to 25.46 million. That is the more accurate number of smartphone users in Nigeria, and it is incredibly close to my 2016 smartphone penetration figure of 22 million.

We can assume that between 2016 and 2017, the country added about 3 million more smartphones. You are welcome. Also, some people have more than two active SIM cards. But they are in the minority and we can ignore them and allow for a small margin of error.

Nigeria’s Addressable Internet Market

Tekedia reports that Nigeria has about 32 million unique bank customers, based on Dec 2017 BVN data and “made a case that Nigeria has only 30 million-person addressable core market (for mainly tech services) despite the 198 million people in the nation”.

That is an accurate case made. Also, if we factor that many of those bank accounts are empty or have less than N10,000 in them most times during the year, the realities tally with the 25 million smartphone users figure that I have come up with.

You do not have to grope in the dark about Nigeria’s addressable internet market any more. Entrepreneurs and investors who want to play in Nigeria’s digital technology market have hard figures to use in their projections. You can access the full report from Asoko Insights HERE. Thanks to Tekedia for the tip-off about the Asoko Insight report.

Update: Here is fresh info. In May 2018, Facebook revealed that it has 26 million users in Nigeria, and that about 25 million of those access Facebook from their mobile devices.

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By Mister Mobility

Nigeria's foremost tech blogger and smartphone reviewer. Call me Daddy.

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