Sub-Sahara Africa subscriber base to reach half-a-billion mark
from MTHULISI SIBANDA in Cape Town, South Africa
CAPE TOWN – THE number of unique mobile subscribers in Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to pass the 500 million-mark in 2020 as mobile services become increasingly affordable and accessible to millions of currently unconnected citizens across the region.
According to ‘Mobile Economy 2014: Sub-Saharan Africa’, the new GSMA report issued in Cape Town, South Africa at the ongoing Mobile 360-Africa, the region has been the world’s fastest-growing mobile region over the last five years in terms of both unique mobile subscribers and mobile connections, and is forecast to continue to lead global growth through 2020.
Unique mobile subscriber penetration as a percentage of the region’s population is forecast to rise to 49 per cent by this point.
“The mobile industry has transformed the lives of millions of people across Sub-Saharan Africa, providing not just connectivity but also an essential gateway to a wide range of healthcare, education and financial services,” said Anne Bouverot, Director General of the GSMA.
“As today’s report shows, millions of additional citizens in the region will become mobile subscribers over the next six years, with many being able to access the internet for the first time via low-cost smartphones and mobile broadband networks. Operators and other ecosystem players, as well as governments and regulators, all have a role to play in ensuring that affordable mobile services can be extended across the region.”
The Sub-Saharan Africa region includes 46 countries in total.
The six largest markets, in order of size, are Nigeria, South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania, which together account for over half of the region’s unique mobile subscriber base.
According to GSMA there were 329 million unique mobile subscribers in Sub-Saharan Africa at the end of June 2014, equivalent to 38 per cent of the region’s total population.
This unique subscriber base is forecast to grow by 7 per cent per year (CAGR) to 2020 to reach just over half a billion and account for 49 percent of the population.
By this point, Sub-Saharan Africa will have overtaken Europe to become the world’s second-largest mobile market after Asia Pacific.
The number of mobile connections1 in the region stood at 608 million in June 2014, forecast to rise to 975 million by 2020.
The region is seeing a rapid migration to mobile broadband networks; 3G accounted for only 17 per cent of total connections in June 2014, but is forecast to account for more than half of the total by 2020 as local operators deploy new mobile broadband networks and smartphones become more affordable.
4G adoption is at an early stage in the region currently, but is expected to account for 4 per cent of total connections by 2020.
Sub-Saharan Africa is also expected to see the strongest growth of any global region in the number of smartphone connections2 over the next six years, reaching 525 million by 2020.
The growing adoption of smartphones along with other data-capable devices such as tablets and dongles is contributing to a significant increase in mobile data traffic.
According to Ericsson3, mobile data traffic in Sub-Saharan Africa will grow 20-fold between 2013 to 2019, rising from 37 500 terabytes per month in 2013 to 764,000 terabytes per month by 2019. This growth rate is twice the global growth rate over the same period.
– CAJ News
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