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CJOC: VOL. 9 NO. 1, JUNE 2022

Mobile Telephony Underlings? Women Airtime Hawking in South-South Nigeria

June 30, 2022


The Nigerian telecommunication sector operates a patriarchate. Women constitute less than 20 percent of the regulatory authority’s staff and own less than 25 percent of telecom clients’ equity. This study investigates a surprising dimension that makes women the most visible operators at the subaltern end of the telecom distribution chain but accords them the slightest recognition as industry contributors. The operating conditions and income profile of 497 women airtime sellers in the south-south region of Nigeria are investigated. Findings show that most of the respondents are women of 20 years of age or less, with secondary education, and unmarried. The majority make $1.50 a day and will never make airtime hawking their career unless they receive support. A regression analysis of the predisposing factors and their engagement in the business shows that they sell airtime primarily because it requires little or no formal sales technique. They also hawk airtime because they were not gainfully employed and since it requires a little startup capital. These findings are helpful for researchers and multilateral agencies, especially the United Nations, which needs data for the Sustainable Development Goal (5) to achieve gender equality and empower women and girls.