Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for nearly a tenth of the global mobile subscriber base and is expected to grow faster than every other region over the next five years.
The mobile industry plays an increasingly important role in the social and economic development of the region: mobile connectivity has become the main platform for innovation and the driving force for greater inclusion, while the mobile ecosystem, including mobile network operators and device vendors, contributes significantly to economic growth and jobs.
Across the region, mobile is enabling life-enhancing services that directly impact the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), complementing the efforts of governments and their development partners.
The Mobile Economy: Sub-Saharan Africa 2017 report shows that more than 500-million people across sub-Saharan Africa will be subscribed to a mobile service by the end of the decade.
The report which was published by GSMA on Wednesday, forecasts that the number of unique mobile subscribers in sub-Saharan Africa will grow from 420-million at the end of 2016 to 535-million in 2020, making it the fastest-growing region in the world over this period.
“Sub-Saharan Africa will be a key engine of subscriber growth for the world’s mobile industry over the next few years as we connect millions of previously unconnected men, women and young people across the continent,” said GSMA director-general Mats Granryd in a statement.
Tech Central Reports that the subscriber growth is expected to be concentrated in large, underpenetrated markets such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Tanzania, which together will account for half of the 115m new subscribers expected in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2020, the GSMA said.
Growth will also focus on currently under-represented segments such as the under-16 age group, which accounts for more than 40% of the population in many countries, and women, who are currently 17% less likely to have a mobile phone subscription than men.
About 270m people in the region now access the Internet through mobile devices, while the number of registered mobile money accounts has reached 280m.