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Mobile operators invest $60b in network upgrades in Nigeria, others

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• Ecosystem contributes $15.6b in taxes to SSA economy

Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya and other part of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) would be investing about $60 billion in their respective networks between last year and 2025.

A fifth of the $60 billion ($12 billion) is expected to be invested in 5G network deployment in the region.The Global System for Mobile telecommunications Association (GSMA) in its ‘The Mobile Economy, sub-Saharan Africa 2019’ report presented at the Mobile 360 Series event, held in Kigali, Rwanda, noted that the mobile ecosystem contributed $144 billion to the SSA economy in 2018, of which $39 billion was a direct contribution.

GSMA said the ecosystem formally employed almost 500,000 people in the region; 1.2 million informally and supports another 1.8 million jobs in other parts of the economy.

In terms of funding of the public sector through consumer and operator taxes, the telecoms body revealed that in 2018, the mobile ecosystem contributed almost $15.6 billion to the funding.Furthermore, driven mainly by productivity gains, the economic contribution of mobile in the region is expected to experience a leap by increasing to almost $185 billion in four years time.

GSMA informed that at the end of 2018, 239 million people across SSA were connected to the mobile Internet, an increase of 35 million on the previous year. It however, said more than three quarters of the population remain offline. The GSMA Mobile Connectivity Index provided insight into the evolution of mobile Internet adoption in the region, based on four primary enablers of digital inclusion – infrastructure, affordability, consumer readiness and availability of content and services.

Meanwhile, the report revealed that over 800 million people across SSA don’t use the mobile Internet. It stressed that coverage is a major barrier but not the only one.

It pointed out that 304 million of the population are out of the Mobile Broaband (MBB) coverage; while 499 million are covered by MBB but don’t subscribe to the mobile Internet. There are however, 239 million mobile Internet users in the region. Addressing social challenges through mobile big data, GSMA noted that the use of mobile networks generates huge amounts of data about people’s geographic location, calling and messaging behaviour.

GSMA noted that this mobile ‘big data’ – when aggregated, anonymised and analysed – can provide valuable and actionable insights across a wide variety of use cases. “While the majority of mobile big data implementations are commercial use cases and research, pilot projects have demonstrated that qualities of mobile big data, such as frequency and high penetration rate, can also add value when addressing environmental, social and governance (ESG) challenges, from tackling environmental issues and tracking disease outbreaks to improving urban planning and responding to disasters.

“The application of mobile big data for social good use cases is still at a nascent stage in Sub-Saharan Africa. However, the potential impact is significant given the rapid adoption of mobile technologies and the lack of sufficient relevant data to support efficient solutions and actionable insights. The GSMA, through the Big Data for Social Good (BD4SG) Programme, is facilitating collaboration among stakeholders in the ecosystem and creating awareness of the potential of mobile big data solutions to help governments, public agencies and the development community capitalise on the opportunity.”


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