Nigeria’s telecommunication sector has proved to be one of the biggest gainers amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The sector recorded an 18.1% growth in the second quarter of 2020. According to the latest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) report released by the National Bureau of Statistics, the telecommunication sector grew by 18.1% in real terms during the second quarter of 2020, compared with 11. 34% recorded in the corresponding quarter of 2019 and 9.71% in the first quarter of 2020. The COVID-19 induced lockdown significantly disrupted the Nigerian economy in the second quarter of 2020. However, the telecommunication sector came out resilient, driven by increased demand for data usage and growth in the number of mobile phone subscribers.
Broadly, the Information and Communication sector comprises of the four activities of Telecommunications and Information Services, Broadcasting and Publishing, Motion Picture and Sound Recording and Music Production. Information and Communication (ICT), as a broad sector, grew by 15.1% and contributed 17.87% to the total value of real GDP (N15.9 trillion) in the quarter. In the second quarter of 2020, the telecommunication sector grew by 18.1% year-on-year, while it grew by 24.8% quarter-on-quarter. This is the biggest growth the telecom sector would record since the last quarter of 2018, when the telecom sector posted a GDP growth of 19%.
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s agricultural sector slowed down in the second quarter of 2020, with a growth of 1.58% 2020. The report showed that other critical sectors of the economy such as manufacturing, transportation, construction, accommodation and food service, education, real estate and trade also recorded significant contractions in the quarter under review. See the indicators below:
- The manufacturing sector contracted by 8.78% in the second quarter of 2020, from -0.13% and 0.43 recorded in second quarter of 2019 and first quarter of 2020.
- Oil refining, a component of the manufacturing sector, dipped by 67.7% (year-on-year).
- Transportation and storage sector contracted in real terms by 49.23% (year-on-year).
- Accommodation and food services contracted by 40.19%.
- Construction sector shrunk by 31.8%.
- Education sector was down by 24.1%.
- Other sectors with significant contractions included Real Estate (21.99%), Trade (16.59%), Professional & Technical services (15.41%), other services (15.07%).
During the quarter, the Nigerian economy witnessed the ripple effects of the twin shocks — weakened global oil price which led to a decline in Nigeria’s oil revenue and the COVID-19 induced lockdown which almost grounded the economy to a standstill.
The telecom sector remained resilient amid the COVID-19 pandemic, given the surge in the demand for data usage and increase in total mobile phone subscribers. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations are adjusting to digital workspace, a new normal which is expected to increase data services and further enhance growth in the sector in the short to medium term. While most sectors recorded negative growth in the second quarter, the trend may subsist in subsequent quarters of the year as concerns about emergence of second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic may distort the recovery trajectory of critical sectors if an acceptable vaccine is not available by then.