from the African Mobile Observatory
The mobile industry in Africa is booming. With over 620 million mobile connections as of September 2011, Africa has overtaken Latin America to become the second largest mobile market in the world, after Asia. Over the past 10 years, the number of mobile connections in Africa has grown an average of 30% per year and is forecast to reach 735 million by the end of 2012.
Fierce competition has driven down prices and increased penetration. Mobile connectivity is now more broadly affordable to citizens. 96% of subscriptions are pre-paid with voice services currently dominating, however the uptake of data services is increasing rapidly.
The Mobile Industry in Africa contributes US$56 billion to the regional economy, equivalent to 3.5% of total GDP. In particular, the mobile ecosystem is estimated to employ over 5 million Africans and is contributing to bringing mobile services to customers right across the continent. However there remains huge untapped potential – 36% of Africans, within the 25 largest African mobile markets (A25), still have no access to mobile services. Projections indicate that raising the whole region to 100% mobile penetration, could add an additional US$35 billion in aggregate GDP to the region, equivalent to a further 2% increase.
The mobile industry in Africa is an enabler of economic development far beyond its immediate domain. Mobile operators have driven the emergence of a unique industry in innovative mobile services in Africa. Mobile Value-Added Services have been launched throughout the continent to enable and support agriculture, banking, education, healthcare and gender equality. In particular, the emergence of mobile money transfers and mobile banking puts Africa firmly at the forefront of the global Mobile Money industry. Beyond mobile services, the mobile industry is also contributing to rural electrical distribution with lower carbon emissions and facilitating the work of NGOs across the continent. Many African governments have prioritized ICT policy as a key driver for development.
For the mobile industry to continue to serve as a catalyst for growth, sufficient spectrum is needed for the provision of mobile broadband services. African countries have currently allocated considerably less spectrum to mobile services than developing countries in Europe, the Americas and Asia. Allocating the Digital Dividend spectrum to mobile services will enable the mobile industry to accelerate its efforts to bring connectivity and information to the rest of rural Africa.
Read the full report here.