There will be 634 million unique mobile subscribers across Sub-Saharan Africa by 2025, equivalent to 52 per cent of the population, up from 444 million (44 per cent) at the end of last year.
The GSMA report also calculates that the mobile ecosystem will add more than $150 billion in value to Sub-Saharan Africa’s economy by 2022, equivalent to almost 8 per cent of regional GDP.
John Giusti, Chief Regulatory Officer, GSMA said, “More needs to be done to extend connectivity to the remaining unconnected and underserved populations across Sub-Sahara Africa but this will require a focus on long-term industry sustainability that can only be achieved through investment-friendly policies and supportive regulatory frameworks.”
Sub-Saharan Africa has been the world’s fastest-growing mobile region in recent years but subscriber growth is slowing as the industry faces the challenges of affordability and a youthful population. The region’s current mobile penetration rate (44 per cent of the population) is significantly below the global average of 66 per cent. Further, according to the World Bank, around 40 per cent of the population in the region are under the age of 16, a demographic segment that has significantly lower levels of mobile ownership than the population as a whole.
However, despite these challenges, smartphone adoption continues to increase rapidly thanks to lower device costs, which is serving to accelerate migration to 3G/4G mobile broadband networks and services. Today’s report predicts that mobile broadband will account for 87 per cent of mobile connections in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2025, up from 38 per cent in 2017. Moreover, nearly 300 million new subscribers are expected to use their devices to access mobile internet services over the next seven years.
The region’s mobile ecosystem also supported 3 million jobs in 2017 and contributed almost $14 billion to the funding of the public sector in the form of general taxation as well as sector-specific levies on the consumption of mobile services.
“Sub-Saharan Africa’s mobile industry is showing strong progress in achieving the targets of the SDGs, predominantly through increased connectivity and access to information, but also through the delivery of services, such as mobile money, that increase productivity, improve well-being and reduce poverty,” added Giusti.