Telecoms investment in network infrastructure development rose 16 percent to $9 billion in 2014 from 2013, said a report by GSMA.
Mobile connections in Sub-Saharan Africa will reach 722 million by year-end.
Mobile broadband – on 3G and 4G networks — will account for almost a quarter of connections this year and will increase to 57 percent by 2020.
Expanding mobile broadband network coverage and falling device costs will be the growth drivers.
Telecoms launched commercial 3G networks in 41 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa as of June 2015.
Telecoms launched 4G networks in 23 countries.
23 percent of the Sub-Saharan African population will be using the mobile internet this year and it will grow to 37 percent by 2020.
Alex Sinclair, acting director general and chief technology officer at the GSMA, said: “Despite revenue and margin pressures, local mobile operators continue to invest heavily to extend network coverage to serve unconnected communities and accelerate the migration to high-speed 3G/4G mobile broadband networks.”
The smartphone adoption rate has doubled over the last two years and now accounts for one in five connections. Regional smartphone connection will reach 540 million by 2020, accounting for half of total connections.
Mobile operators directly contributed $31 billion, representing 1.7 per cent of GDP. The industry will contribute $166 billion to the region by 2020, equivalent to 8 percent of expected GDP.
There will be 386 million mobile subscribers in Sub-Saharan Africa this year, equivalent to 41 per cent of the region’s population. The region overtook Latin America in 2014 to become the world’s third-largest mobile subscriber market, behind only Asia Pacific and Europe.
The number of unique mobile subscribers in Sub-Saharan Africa will reach 518 million by 2020, representing 49 percent of the region’s population, said GSMA.