Even before this unfortunate but necessary lockdown of Lagos and Ogun States by the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, the coronavirus pandemic sweeping across the world has brought untold hardship to individuals and businesses in Nigeria in general and Lagos State in particular.
However, it can be different strokes for the three most viable sectors of the Nigerian economy, — banking, telecommunications and oil and gas. Though, banks are partially exempted from the lockdown, they are bound to lose out in heavy business transactions within the period. They may need to make do with multifarious micro charges, especially ATM and account transfer fees. The petroleum product retailers are exempted from the lockdown as filling stations remain open across the states but there is no gainsaying that business is not the same for them. Apparently, the restriction of movement means that they will only cater to those few professionals exempted from the lockdown.
While all other sector, including the banking and oil and gas are reeling in massive loses occasioned by this lockdown, one sector which will remain even or in some cases make more money during the period is the telecommunications sector. This is as a result of the nature of the business they do, which has become a sine qua non to human functionality in this modern civilization.
We have reached the point in human existence where almost every other essential form of human endeavour are structured on telecommunications, be it security, health care and mass communication. Simply put, the lockdown entails that people remain at home but while businesses and their sources of livelihood suffer, they must communicate with their loved ones who they cannot see for some time. And they must retain their sanity by keeping themselves entertained.
Since the restriction of movements, data subscription by Nigerians has gone up exponentially. Sources at some of the telecommunications companies say there have been almost more than twice the voice calls through their networks. Since the lockdown, people have taken solace in social media and messaging applications like Facebook, instagram, twitter and whatsapp, not just to keep abreast with development but to pass messages around.
Whatsapp groups have become de facto social communities where people seek information, exchange ideas and even trade digital blows. Celebrities have been engaging their fans more frequently than usual on social media, despite the fact that no work is going on. Everyone wants to say something on social media and this means a huge upsurge in data consumption. Furthermore, communications in social media has been data intensive as graphics and videos have been shared and forwarded billions of times. This is definitely more money for the service providers.
There have also been a lot of activities around streaming sites as people sit at home. Youtube for instance has seen an exponential number of visitors and impressions on their platrform in the last few weeks while other streaming sites like Netflix has also seen a lot of subscriptions and viewership. Audio streaming sites like spotify, apple music and deezer have increased patronage on the platforms. All these platforms consume data voraciously and the telecommunications companies are there to provide all the data subscriptions for a fee.
All the increased voice calls and heavy data usage means that the telecommunications companies will not come out of this lockdown bearish and almost going bankrupt like most other business but might even come out in stronger financial footing or at least even. Granted, the telecommunications companies are going to also lose a lot of patronage from locked businesses but the will sure come out of this better than other sectors.