With 456 Million Subscribers, Sub-Saharan Africa Is Now The World’s Fastest-Growing Mobile Region

By  |  July 17, 2019

There are 1.2 billion people in Africa and sub-Saharan Africa will soon account for more than half the total number of mobile subscribers on the continent.

A recent study has identified 456 million mobile subscribers as of 2018 and also projected the figure to rise to 623 million in five years.

It appears the folks at GSMA are having a field day. Just last week, a combination of their effort with that of Briter Bridges led to an interesting revelation about the African tech ecosystem — one that suggested that there are now 618 active tech hubs on the continent.

And this week has brought yet more news from the GSMA. This time, though, it’s a different matter altogether. A new submission from the organisation has it that there are now 456 unique mobile subscribers in Sub-Saharan Africa and the region will remain the world’s fastest-growing mobile region in the coming years as it has forecasted that a further 160 million new unique subscribers will be added across the region by 2025, bringing the total to 623 million.

The Mobile Economy, Sub-Saharan Africa 2019,” released on Tuesday, in Kigali, also projected the new mobile economy to generate up to USD 185 Bn (that’s 9.1 percent of the continent’s total GDP) by 2023. That would be a rise from the USD 150 Bn recorded in 2018.

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As per the report, high-growth markets identified in Nigeria and Ethiopia are expected to supply the most number of the projected new mobile subscribers in Sub-Saharan Africa during the studied five-year period. 

The 2019 Sub-Saharan Africa edition of the GSMA’s Mobile Economy report series is being made public at the ongoing ‘Mobile 360 – Africa’ event being held this week in Kigali, Rwanda.

Other interesting parts of the report have it that Sub-Saharan Africa’s mobile ecosystem currently supports around 3.5 million jobs, directly and indirectly. In the previous year alone, it contributed almost USD 15.6 Bn to the funding of the public sector through consumer and operator taxes.

It was also revealed that around 239 million people, equivalent to 23 percent of the region’s population, use the mobile internet on a regular basis.

More so, it was found that smartphones accounted for 39 percent of mobile connections in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2018; projected to increase to two-thirds of connections by 2025.

Having looked into their own “crystal ball”, GSMA is forecasting that 3G will overtake 2G to become the leading mobile technology in Sub-Saharan Africa this year.

In addition, they have envisioned that 4G will account for almost one in four connections by 2025, even though 4G uptake is being hampered in some markets by the high cost of 4G devices and drawbacks in assigning 4G spectrum.

GSMA’s new report also hinted that the region’s mobile operators are increasing investment in their networks and are expected to spend USD 60 Bn on network infrastructure and services between 2018 and 2025, and almost a fifth of this total will be invested in new 5G networks. On the whole, it does look like better days ahead.

Featured Image Courtesy: answersafrica.com

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