GSMA: Strong mobile growth predicted for Sub-Saharan Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa remains the fastest-growing region in terms of mobile subscription, with almost half a billion mobile subscribers in 2019.

According to the GSMA’s annual Mobile Economy Sub-Saharan Africa report that explores the latest data, forecasts and trends for the region, this number will rise to 614mln in 2025. While these numbers sound impressive, the current penetration rate is still at 45% and will cap 50% by 2025.

The mobile industry in Sub-Saharan Africa has largely risen to the challenge of keeping individuals and businesses connected during the pandemic, despite changes in data consumption patterns. However, with nearly 800 million people in the region still not connected to the mobile internet, it has never been more urgent to close the digital divide.

The report recommends, governments and policymakers should implement policies to enhance access to connectivity and drive investment in more resilient digital infrastructure for the future. This is crucial to reactivating the region’s economy post- Covid-19 despite the sizable contribution mobile technologies and services generated in 2019, at 9% of regional GDP.

Efficient and effective management of spectrum is also key to maximise the opportunities that mobile connectivity can bring to society. Making sure the required spectrum resources are available under the right conditions will lower broadband costs, increase coverage and boost connectivity. The 2020s will see strong growth in the number of Africans connected to mobile broadband. As 4G and 5G grow together throughout the decade to come, spectrum preparation can drive cost efficiency and promote growth.

Commercial mobile 5G services have been launched in South Africa, and trials have been conducted in several other markets across the region, including Nigeria, Gabon, Uganda and Kenya. By 2025, the reports estimates, 27% of connections will be on 4G while 5G will only make out 3%.

The full report can be downloaded at the GSMA’s website.

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