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African leaders mobilise in Tanzania to delve into tech opportunities

African leaders mobilise in Tanzania to delve into tech opportunities

It is only through the mobile industry that we can unlock the economic potential of the SSA region, according to Samia Suluhu Hassan, Vice President of Tanzania.

Hassan delivered the opening address at the GSMA Mobile 360 Series Conference currently underway at the Julius Nyerere Conventional Centre in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

According to GSMA, the conference will explore how, by putting mobile connectivity at the forefront of national digital strategies, African leaders can leverage the power of mobile to build smart communities and make a digital Africa inclusive for all.

"The pervasive nature of mobile technology offers a unique platform for improving and enhancing social and economic development across Africa," says Akinwale Goodluck, head of GSMA Sub-Saharan Africa.

Goodluck believes that given the low levels of coverage and penetration in the region, the mobile industry has the potential to drive significant change through improving the accessibility of its services, in particular to the poor and those in remote areas.

In his address, he will discuss how the industry can drive significant impact across business and support Africa in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

According to the GSMA mobile economy report 2017, Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for nearly a tenth of the global mobile subscriber base and is expected to grow faster than every other region over the next five years.

It notes that the mobile industry plays an increasingly important role in the social and economic development of the region, "mobile connectivity has become the main platform for innovation and the driving force for greater inclusion, while the mobile ecosystem, including mobile network operators and device vendors, contributes significantly to economic growth and jobs," reads the report.

GSMA reports that there were 420 million unique mobile subscribers in SSA at the end of 2016, equivalent to a penetration rate of 43%, a growth faster than any other region. It notes that a compound annual growth rate of 6.1% over the five years to 2020 is around 50% higher than the global average.

The region will have more than half a billion unique mobile subscribers by 2020, by which time around half the population will subscribe to a mobile service. The total number of SIM connections in the region reached 731 million at the end of 2016, and is predicted to rise to nearly 1 billion by 2020.

Smartphone connections in Sub-Saharan Africa have doubled over the past two years to nearly 200 million, accounting for a quarter of mobile connections in 2016.

Key factors supporting the growth of smartphone adoption in the region include the increasing affordability of new devices and a growing market for second-hand devices.

According to the report, mobile technologies and services generated US$110 billion of economic value in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2016, equivalent to 7.7% of GDP.

Mobile's contribution to GDP is expected to rise to US$142 billion, equivalent to 8.6% of GDP, by 2020 as countries benefit from improvements in productivity and efficiency brought about by increased take-up of mobile services.

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