Unique mobile subscribers base in Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to pass the 500 million-mark in 2020 as mobile services become increasingly affordable and accessible to millions of currently unconnected citizens across the region.
This is according to the new GSMA report issued in Cape Town South Africa at the ongoing Mobile 360-Africa, by ‘Mobile Economy 2014: Sub-Saharan Africa.
Saharan Africa has been the world’s fastest-growing mobile region over the last five years in terms of both unique mobile subscribers and mobile connections, and is forecast to continue to lead global growth through 2020.
Unique mobile subscriber penetration as a percentage of the region’s population is forecast to rise to 49 per cent by this point.
“The mobile industry has transformed the lives of millions of people across Sub-Saharan Africa, providing not just connectivity but also an essential gateway to a wide range of healthcare, education and financial services,” said Anne Bouverot, Director General of the GSMA.
There are 46 countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa region and the six largest markets, in order of size, are Nigeria, South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania, which together account for over half of the region’s unique mobile subscriber base.
According to GSMA there were 329 million unique mobile subscribers in Sub-Saharan Africa at the end of June 2014, equivalent to 38 per cent of the region’s total population.
This unique subscriber base is forecast to grow by 7 per cent per year (CAGR) to 2020 to reach just over half a billion and account for 49 per cent of the population. By this point, Sub-Saharan Africa will have overtaken Europe to become the world’s second-largest mobile market after Asia Pacific.
Sub-Saharan Africa is also expected to see the strongest growth of any global region in the number of smartphone connections2 over the next six years, reaching 525 million by 2020. The growing adoption of smartphones along with other data-capable devices such as tablets and dongles is contributing to a significant increase in mobile data traffic.
According to Ericsson3, mobile data traffic in Sub-Saharan Africa will grow 20-fold between 2013 to 2019, rising from 37 500 terabytes per month in 2013 to 764,000 terabytes per month by 2019. This growth rate is twice the global growth rate over the same period.