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Tuesday, Jul 16th

Africa tops global mobile market growth

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Sub-Saharan Africa is among the fastest growing mobile markets in the world, with annual average growth rates averaging 44% in the past 11 years.

According to a GSMA report released on Tuesday, mobile connections in the region have increased to 475 million, compared to 12.3 million fixed line connections.

"Mobile has already revolutionised African society and yet demand still continues to grow by almost 50% a year," said Tom Phillips, GSMA’s chief government and regulatory affairs officer.

The report says sub-Saharan Africa has the highest levels of mobile internet usage worldwide. In Zimbabwe and Nigeria, mobile accounts for over half of all web traffic at 58.1% and 57.9% respectively. The global average for internet accessibility through mobile devices ranges around 10%.

The report further adds that 3G penetration levels for the region are projected to grow by about 46% in the period to 2016.

It said the increased uptake of mobile devices in the region has also helped boost the region’s economy, raking in $32 billion. This accounts for about 4.4% of the region’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The adoption of mobile devices has added on approximately 3.5 million jobs on the back of innovation hubs seeking to develop skills and product commercialisation. The growth of mobile technologies has led to the rapid growth of mobile money operations across the region.

But despite the massive investments, totalling $16.5 billion in the past five years, the mobile sector in sub-Saharan Africa is facing a potential 'capacity and coverage crunch' in terms of available mobile spectrum, according to the report.

It says the available amount of spectrum allocated to mobile services in the region is one of the lowest in the world.

"In many sub-Saharan African countries, mobile broadband is the only possible route to deliver the internet to consumers. However, to maximise the potential gains, governments need to continue to support the development of mobile broadband, notably through the provision of appropriate spectrum,” said Chris Williams, partner at Deloitte telecommunications.

He added that “the current spectrum allocations across the region lag behind those of developed countries and, unless increased, seem likely to raise costs of provision, challenge investment decisions” and likely increase network congestion.

"Tackling stifling regulation, addressing high taxation and implementing a harmonised approach to future spectrum allocation will further boost the success story of mobile across the continent,” added Phillips.

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