Telecom giants MTN and Airtel drive 5G expansion in Nigeria with Multi-Billion Investments

Leading telecommunications companies in Nigeria, including MTN and Airtel, are spearheading a massive expansion of 5G networks across the country. These investments are part of a broader strategy to enhance connectivity and meet the growing demand for high-speed internet services.

elecommunications operators in Nigeria, such as MTN and Airtel, are ramping up their investments in infrastructure to expand 4G and 5G networks across the country. MTN Nigeria’s CEO, Karl Toriola, recently announced a 2.7% increase in 4G sites, pushing the adoption rate to 81.5%. The company has also seen significant growth in its 5G sites, rising from 588 to 2,106, with a corresponding increase in 5G usage to 11.3%.

Airtel has launched its 5G networks in major cities like Lagos and Abeokuta, with plans to test the network in Oshogbo. Regulatory documents reveal that MTN Nigeria and Airtel Africa collectively spent ₦613 billion on expanding their networks by the end of 2022. MTN allocated ₦504.33 billion, while Airtel spent ₦108.79 billion.


This investment has coincided with an increase in smartphone deliveries to Africa, with a 12% rise reported in 2023. TECNO emerged as the leading smartphone brand in Nigeria by January 2024, holding a 26.03% market share, followed by Infinix with 20.88%, Samsung with 11.43%, and Apple with 9.66%.

Despite challenges such as supply chain disruptions and inflation, which led to a 30% increase in smartphone prices, the uptake of 4G and 5G subscriptions has continued to rise. This growth can be attributed to collaborations between telecom companies, asset financing firms, and smartphone manufacturers, which have introduced flexible financing options to mitigate economic pressures.

Airtel’s collaboration with iTel, for example, offers customers access to affordably priced smartphones. Sam Adeoye, head of public relations at Airtel Nigeria, stated that these agreements are facilitating the acquisition of 4G/5G devices and routers for subscribers. Aisha Husseini, founder of Keza Africa, a device financing startup, noted an increasing interest in smartphone financing due to rising inflation in Nigeria. She highlighted that even individuals who previously would not have considered device financing are now opting for it due to the depreciation of the naira.

The expansion of 4G and 5G networks in Nigeria is expected to enhance connectivity, drive economic growth, and improve access to digital services for millions of Nigerians.