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Nigeria, Ethiopia to drive Africa’s telecoms subscribers’ growth


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•SSA’s mobile economy valued at over $150b in 2018
Between now and 2025, Nigeria and Ethiopia are two countries in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), expected to drive new telecommunications subscribers’ growth in the region.

This SSA growth is expected to be spearheaded by young African consumers as they become mobile users for the first time. Specifically, within this period, Nigeria, which currently has 174 million active telephone users, is expected to add 31 million new subscribers; Ethiopia 18 million; DRC 15 million; Tanzania 10 million, and Kenya nine million.

According to the Global System for Mobile telecommunications Association (GSMA), at the on-going Mobile 360 Series conference in Kigali, Rwanda, SSA’s mobile economy for 2018 was valued at $150 billion.

The yearly GSMA conference also revealed that more than 160 million new unique mobile subscribers will be added across the region by 2025, bringing the total to 623 million, representing around half of the region’s population, up from 456 million (44 percent) in 2018.

Head of Sub-Saharan Africa, GSMA, Akinwale Goodluck, said a new generation of youthful ‘digital natives’ across SSA are set to fuel customer growth and drive adoption of new mobile services that are empowering lives and transforming businesses.“With mobile technology at the heart of Sub-Saharan Africa’s digital journey, it is essential for policymakers in the region to implement policies and best practices that ensure sustainable growth in the mobile industry, and enable the transition to next-generation mobile networks,” he noted.

GSMA, in the Mobile Economy SSA 2019 report, unveiled at the conference, calculated the mobile ecosystem across SSA, saying it generated almost $150 billion in economic value last year –about 8.6 percent of the region’s gross domestic product (GDP). It is forecast to generate almost $185 billion (9.1 percent of GDP) by 2023.

The new report also revealed that around 239 million people, or 23 percent of the region’s population, use the mobile Internet on a regular basis.

GSMA said smartphones accounted for 39 percent of mobile connections in the region last year, and forecast to increase to two-thirds of connections by 2025.

“3G will overtake 2G to become the leading mobile technology in Sub-Saharan Africa this year. 4G will account for almost one in four connections by 2025. However, 4G uptakes is being dampened in some markets by the high cost of 4G devices and delays in assigning 4G spectrum.

“The region’s mobile operators are increasing investment in their networks and are expected to spend $60 billion (capex) on network infrastructure and services between 2018 and 2025 – almost a fifth of this total being invested in new 5G networks. Sub-Saharan Africa’s mobile ecosystem supports around 3.5 million jobs, directly and indirectly, and last year contributed almost $15.6 billion to the funding of the public sector through consumer and operator taxes,” GSMA stated.

The telecoms body said at the end of 2018, 239 million people across in the region 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 Index1 provides 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/services.

According to the telecoms body, with mobile technology at the heart of SSA’s digital journey, it is essential for policymakers in the region to implement policies and best practices on key enablers of sustainable growth in the mobile industry.


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Akinwale GoodluckGSMA
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