Sub-Saharan Africa fastest growing telecom market with 44% growth since 2001

Telecom Lead Africa: Sub-Saharan Africa is the fastest growing telecom market with average annual growth rate of 44 percent since 2001.

Tom Phillips, Chief Government and Regulatory Affairs Officer, GSMA

According to GSMA, mobile connections grew to 475 million, compared to 12.3 million fixed line connections.

Necessary spectrum allocations and transparent regulation will enable the mobile industry to create 14.9 million new jobs in sub-Saharan Africa between 2015 and 2020.

“Mobile has already revolutionized African society and yet demand still continues to grow by almost 50 percent a year,” said Tom Phillips, Chief Government and Regulatory Affairs Officer, GSMA. “To create an environment that supports and encourages this immense growth, it is imperative that governments work in partnership with mobile operators to enable the industry to thrive throughout the region, ultimately providing affordable options to connect its citizens.”

In Zimbabwe and Nigeria, mobile accounts for over half of all web traffic at 58.1 percent and 57.9 percent respectively, compared to a 10 percent global average.

3G penetration levels are forecast to grow by 46 percent through 2016 as the use of mobile-specific services develops.

Mobile adoption has directly contributed $32 billion to sub-Saharan African economy, or 4.4 percent of GDP.

Approximately 3.5 million full-time jobs are attributed to the mobile industry, which has also spurred a wave of technology and content innovation.

Safaricom’s M-PESA mobile money transfer service in Kenya has achieved greater scale than any other service in the world.

There are more than 80 mobile money operations for the unbanked across Africa compared to 36 in Asia, the second most popular region for these services.

Kenyan government recently announced a new 10 percent tax on money transfer services, threatening the economic viability of the service in the future.

Despite investments of $16.5 billion over the past five years ($2.8 billion in 2011 alone) across the five key markets in the region, mainly directed towards the expansion of network capacity, sub-Saharan Africa faces a looming capacity and coverage crunch in terms of available mobile spectrum.

Some countries apportion as little as 80MHz, compared to developed markets where allocation for mobile exceeds 500MHz.

As mobile Internet traffic will grow 25-fold over the next four years, there will be an increase in network congestion unless governments across the region take urgent steps to release new spectrum in line with the recommendations of the ITU’s World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC).

Africa has the highest taxation, as a proportion of the cost of mobile ownership, amongst any developing regions worldwide, with taxes on handset and mobile devices much higher than elsewhere.

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