The recent mobile economy report of GSM Association (GSMA), has predicted that more than half the population of sub-Saharan Africa would be subscribed to mobile phone by 2025.
The report, which was published at the just concluded GSMA ‘Mobile 360 – Africa’ event in Kigali, Rwanda, estimated that there would be 634 million unique mobile subscribers across sub-Saharan Africa by 2025, equivalent to 52 per cent of the population.
This, it stated would be up from the 444 million (about 44 per cent) recorded by the country at the end of last year.
The report also estimated that the mobile ecosystem would add more than $150 billion in value to sub-Saharan Africa’s economy by 2022, equivalent to almost 8 per cent of regional GDP.
Analysing details of the report, the Chief Regulatory Officer at the GSMA, John Giusti, said, “For many citizens across the region, particularly those living in rural areas, a mobile phone is not just a communications device but also the primary channel for getting online and a vital tool for improving their lives.
“More needs to be done to extend connectivity to the remaining unconnected and underserved populations across sub-Sahara Africa, but this will require a focus on long-term industry sustainability that can only be achieved through investment-friendly policies and supportive regulatory frameworks.”
Meeting the affordability challenge of a youthful population, sub-Saharan Africa had been the world’s fastest-growing mobile region in recent years, but subscriber growth was slowing down as the industry faces the challenges of affordability and a youthful population. The region’s current mobile penetration rate, which is put at 44 per cent of the population, was significantly below the global average of 66 per cent.
Furthermore, according to the World Bank, around 40 per cent of the population in the region are under the age of 16, a demographic segment that has significantly lower levels of mobile ownership than the population as a whole, the report said.
However, despite these challenges, smartphone adoption continues to increase rapidly thanks to lower device costs, which was serving to accelerate migration to 3G/4G mobile broadband networks and services.
“Today’s report predicts that mobile broadband will account for 87 per cent of mobile connections in sub-Saharan Africa by 2025, up from 38 per cent in 2017. “Moreover, nearly 300 million new subscribers are expected to use their devices to access mobile internet services over the next seven years.
“By 2022, the region’s mobile economy is forecast to generate more than $150 billion, about 7.9 per cent of GDP of economic value as countries continue to benefit from improvements in productivity and efficiency, particularly due to the increase in mobile internet adoption.
“The region’s mobile ecosystem also supported 3 million jobs in 2017 and contributed almost $14 billion to the funding of the public sector in the form of general taxation as well as sector-specific levies on the consumption of mobile services, “the report added.
The report also included examples of how mobile networks and services are playing a key role in delivering the UN’s Sustainable Developments Goals (SDGs), as well as supporting a fast-growing tech start-up ecosystem.
Many tech start ups in Africa now use mobile as the primary platform to create solutions that address a range of socioeconomic challenges, the report further said.