Sub-Saharan Africa currently has 420 million unique mobile subscribers with a 43% penetration rate.
By 2020, this number is expected to hit over half a billion, making Africa the fastest growing market. This is according to a new GSMA study dubbed ‘The Mobile Economy: Africa 2016’ that was published recently at the GSMA Mobile 360 – Africa event held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
The report also highlights the increasing contribution of Africa’s mobile industry to the regional economy, including employment and public funding, and mobile’s role a platform for digital and financial inclusion.
“More than half a billion people across Africa are now subscribed to a network, providing them not just connectivity but a gateway to a range of other essential services in areas such as digital identity, healthcare and financial services,” said Mats Granryd, Director General, GSMA. “The rapid move to mobile broadband networks is also unlocking new opportunities for consumers, businesses and governments, growing an ecosystem that last year added more than $150 billion in value to Africa’s economy”.
According to the data, there were 731 million SIM connections in Africa at the end of 2016. This will also rise to nearly 1 billion by 2020.
Smartphone connections have doubled in Sub-Saharan Africa over the past two years to nearly 200 million. The report identified increasing affordability of new devices and growing market for second-hand devices as reasons for the growth of smartphones.
However, this has affected revenue growth in the region which is continuing its downward trend due to messaging services like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.
Mobile penetration in Western Africa is highest in Cabo Verde, Gambia, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. In Eastern Africa, it is highest in Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania. In Central Africa: Gabon, Congo and Sao Tome and Principe. Finally, in Southern Africa: Seychelles, Mauritius Botswana and South Africa.
African subscribers are rapidly migrating to mobile broadband networks and services, a result of ongoing network rollouts and the increasing availability of affordable mobile broadband devices and tariffs.