Africa is one continent that leapfrogged the evolution of telecommunications, starting from nothing jumping over the landlines to adopt the mobile phones. Unlike Western nations that started from nothing, the moved to telegrams, then to landlines (fixed) phones and finally ended up to mobile phones. Africa began with virtually nothing and jumped right into the mobile phone age.
A new report tabled by the GSMA, The Mobile Economy – sub-Saharan Africa 2015, says that for the year 2014, mobile phones contributed to over $100 billion economic gain for sub-Saharan Africa. An equivalent of 5.7% of the region’s GDP out of which, mobile operators contributed to $31 billion growth making 1.7% of the GDP.
The report further indicates that going forward the mobile contribution to GDP growth is bound to increase. As more telecom keep extending their networks coverage to the unconnected population in rural and remote regions. The prevailing forecast seems to indicate that by 202, the mobile industry will contribute to as much as $166 billion in value; representing an 8% of the GDP.
“Despite revenue and margin pressures, local mobile operators continue to invest heavily to extend network coverage to serve unconnected communities and accelerate the migration to high-speed 3G/4G mobile broadband network,” said Alex Sinclair, the Acting Director General and Chief Technology Officer at GSMA.
The report further says that the end of 2015, there will be 386 million unique mobile subscribers across sub-Sahara Africa; representing 41% of the region’s population.
About sub-Sahara Africa mobile subscription
According to CAGR, the region’s subscriber base grows by an average of 13% per year. From 2010-2015, the region’s subscriber base rose by twice the rate of the global average (6%). Sub-Sahara overtook Latin America in 2014 and became the world’s 3rd largest mobile subscriber market, coming behind Asia Pacific and Europe.
By 2020, the number of unique mobile subscribers will grow to 518 million, representing 49% growth working out to one in two people in the region’s population. In terms of mobile connection across sub-Sahara Africa, the number of users will surpass 722 million by the end of 2015 with 3G/4G making up at least 25% of the connections, but will increase to 57% by 2020.
By the end of this year, 23% of the region’s population will be using mobile internet, by 2020 this figure is expected to grow to 37%. By 202, the region’s smartphone connection will stand at 540 million. Telecoms operating in the region invested about $9 million in the mobile network infrastructure by 2014, which was a 16% increase from 2013. By 202 the capital investment by telecoms to support mobile broadband networks growth will hit $13.6 billion.