Experts say the increased uptake of mobile phones across the Sub-Saharan African (SSA) region will offer opportunities for companies and application developers geared to tap into the industry, as well as the enterprise market segment.
Nearly half of the population in the region does not have access to a cellphone claims Frost & Sullivan in an analysis report released on Wednesday.
A recent study by Informa Telecoms and Media shows that smartphone users in Africa will jump to about 300 million by 2017, accounting for about 30% of the continent's population.
This still leaves immense room for further growth, with Frost & Sullivan saying the Sub-Saharan Africa mobile penetration rate will jump to 79% by 2020 from 52% in 2012.
Telecommunications companies, smartphone manufacturers willing to tap into the region as well as application developers are likely to benefit from this trend, one which will also be driven by the continent's booming population.
"The introduction of affordable smartphones, specifically designed for the African market, has improved the market scenario," said Frost & Sullivan Information & Communication Technologies Industry Analyst Joanita Roos.
The Sub-Saharan African Mobile End-user Trends report by Frost & Sullivan says "more than half of the population has no access to a mobile phone".
Experts at the International Data Corporation (IDC) said this week that "while a variety of ICT providers have made concerted efforts to tap into the SME market in recent years, 2015 heralds the open battle for the SME market" with mobile telecommunications operators seeking to strongly position "to leverage" on opportunities offered by the enterprise segment.
"2015 heralds the battle for the SME market in more developed African markets."
"As mobile devices start to gain popularity in SSA, other related end-user trends are also beginning to surface," added Roos. "For example, the large unbanked population and rural environment in the region is fuelling the use of mobile financial services".
Furthermore, says the Frost & Sullivan report: "Enterprise customers are demanding more advanced mobile services, such as fixed mobile convergence (FMC) and it is expected that enterprise segments will drive the growth in the subscriber base, as well as revenue generation in the short to medium term."
The likely increased coverage of 3G networks, the rise of local content, and the development of a range of new applications are seen as the key drivers for the projected rise in the uptake of mobile broadband internet in SSA.
"Mobile broadband connections are now anticipated to quadruple from its 2012 figure to reach 160 million in 2016. This uptrend reflects the gradual change in consumer habits, as they gain their first Internet experience through a mobile device," added Roos.