Latest study on the socio-economic impact of the mobile industry in Sub-Saharan Africa by GSMA has revealed that mobile contributes over six per cent of the region’s GDP, higher than any other comparable region globally, and this forecast is expected to rise to over eight per cent by 20201.
This is even as mobile industry’s contribution to Sub-Saharan Africa GDP in 2012 was US $60 billion and is predicted to rise to US $119 billion by 2020.
Meanwhile, the region is dominated by lower cost mobile technologies, with over 86 per cent of connections in region at the end of 2013 expected to be 2G.
Accordingly, the balance is almost all 3Gconnections, with 4G expected to account for 0.1 per cent of total connections, a figure that will rise to almost 2% in 2017.
The report titled, “Sub-Saharan Africa Mobile Economy 2013”, developed by GSMA Intelligence, further revealed that last year, the mobile ecosystem directly supported 3.3 million jobs and contributed US $21 billion to public funding in the region, including license fees. By 2020, mobile is set to double its economic effect, employing 6.6 million men and women in the region and contributing US $42 billion to public funding.
According to the report, Sub-Saharan Africa’s unique mobile subscriber base has grown by 18 per cent annually over the last five years, making it the fastest growing region globally.
By mid-2013, the study informed that there were 253 million unique mobile subscribers and 502 million connections2. With many countries in the region seeing fixed line penetration rates of less than five per cent, mobile has emerged as the main medium for accessing the internet across Sub-Saharan Africa.
While 2G connections still dominate in the region, the report also revealed that 3G and 4G networks are gaining scale and smartphone ownership is on the rise3. With unique subscriber penetration rates still less than 33 per cent, this opens up a major opportunity for growth in the next five years.
“Despite the significant impact of the mobile industry in Sub-Saharan Africa in recent years, even greateropportunitiesare ahead,” Tom Phillips, Chief Regulatory Officer, GSMA, said, adding that .“Beyond further growth for voice services, the region is starting to see an explosion in the uptake of mobile data. However, a short-term focus by somecountries on generating high spectrum fees and maximising tax revenue risks constrainingthe potentialof the mobile Internet.”