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This post, however, contains a list of mobile network operators in Nigeria, a brief history and the date they started operations! The GSM uprising started way back in August 2001 and thus changed the information and communication technology atmosphere in Nigeria. Since then, it has gradually evolved to be one of the biggest tech contraptions to hit the face of Nigeria.

The word GSM (stands for Global System for Mobile Communications) and since its launch, mobile communications has evolved and now the best ways we stay connected with families and friends all over the world.

According to these statistics (See image below) released by NCC, the sum total of all active telephony subscribers and teledensity as calculated on a monthly and annual basis. Teledensity is defined as the number of active telephone connections per one hundred (100) inhabitants living within an area and is expressed as a percentage figure.

Subscriber / Teledensity Data (July 2017 to June 2018) - Source
Subscriber / Teledensity Data (July 2017 to June 2018) – Source

That said, here on Naijaknowhow, you’ll find a list of all the top GSM operators in Nigeria (last updated in 2018) – four operators are MTN Nigeria, Airtel, 9mobile and Globacom.

Top Mobile Network Operators in Nigeria (Summary)

GSM Operator

Market Share (%)

Year Started


MTN Nigeria Communications 40.96% 2001
Globacom Limited 24.71% 2003
Airtel Nigeria 24.58% 2001
EMTS Limited (9mobile) 9.74% 2008

List of Mobile Network Operators in Nigeria (GSM Providers Market Share and History)

1. Airtel Nigeria

The telco company that has rebranded the most


Bharti Airtel Limited is a leading global telecommunications company with operations in 20 countries across Asia and Africa. With headquarters in New Delhi, India, the company ranks among the top 5 mobile service providers globally in terms of subscribers. In 2001, Econet Nigeria was one of the three companies that won the GSM license auction – MTN Nigeria and MTEL were the other two.

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Airtel Nigeria (formerly Econet Wireless Nigeria, Vmobile, Celtel, Zain), (EWN) switched Vee Networks of Nigeria (Vmobile) – and was acquired by Celtel in 2006, then acquired by Zain. Airtel has over 39 million subscribers of which 26 million are internet subscribers they are seen as the 3rd GSM Market leader behind GLO and MTN.

Airtel Data, Prepaid Plan and Support Details

2. MTN Nigeria

The first mobile network in Nigeria


MTN Nigeria was founded in 2001, MTN Nigeria made the first call on its network on May 16, 2001, this is the first and oldest mobile network in Nigeria. MTN Nigeria is a member of the MTN group, with over 66 million subscribers of which 38 million are internet subscribers they are seen as the GSM Market leader.

Market shares by GSM operators in Nigeria (June 2018)
Market share by GSM operators in Nigeria (June 2018)

As one of the major players in Nigeria’s GSM revolution, MTN Nigeria was also the first to launch its service across major Nigerian cities, and currently has the most expansive network coverage, spread across 3,340 cities, towns and villages in all 36 states of the federation, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

MTN Data, Prepaid Plan and Support Details

3. Globacom (GLO)

Nigerian owned telecommunication company

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Globacom Limited (or GLO) is a Nigerian multinational telecommunications company headquartered in Lagos. GLO is a privately owned telecommunications carrier that started operations on 29 August 2003. It currently operates in four countries in West Africa, namely Nigeria, the Republic of Benin, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.

Internet Subscriber Data (GSM) in Nigeria (June 2017 - June 2018)
Internet Subscriber Data (GSM) in Nigeria (June 2017 – June 2018)

GLO has an estimate of over 40 million subscribers (June 2018) of which 26 million are internet subscribers and it is a 100% Nigerian owned company owned by Mike Adenuga. In 2011, GLO became the first telecommunication company to build an $800 million high-capacity fibre-optic cable known as Glo-1, a submarine cable from the United Kingdom to Nigeria.

GLO Data, Prepaid Plan and Support Details

4. 9mobile

The newest mobile telecommunication company in Nigeria

9mobile official logo

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9mobile (formally Etisalat) is the youngest player in the Nigeria GSM market. Emerging Markets Telecommunication Services Ltd. (EMTS), trading as ‘9mobile, is a Nigerian private limited liability company. EMTS acquired a Unified Access Service License from the Nigerian Communications Commission in 2007. EMTS fully launched in Nigeria in 2008 with “0809ja” to affirm the “Nigerianness” of our origin, after 9 years of operation they switched from Etisalat to 9mobile with the aim to stay true to our “Naijacentric identity”.

9mobile has an estimate of over 15 million subscribers (June 2018) of which 10 million are internet subscribers. With the more recent launch of 4G LTE in October 2016, 9mobile has arguably one of the fastest internet connections in Nigeria!

9mobile Data, Prepaid Plan and Support Details


There you go, that’s the list of top mobile network operators in Nigeria (GSM). Although we have other internet providers, CDMS, Wireless and VoIP providers in Nigeria — they are Visafone Limited (Spectranet), Multilinks Telkom, VGC/MTN, 21st Century Technologies, IPNX, Smile and Ntel!

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Tech Enthusiast | Gadget Lover | Architect | Content & SEO Expert @ SEOEXPERTS.COM.NG | Inter Milan Fan ⚽. Writing history one piece at a time. You can connect with me on social media using the buttons below. Cheers!


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