Sub-Saharan Africa Fastest Growing Mobile Userbase, 535M Subscribers By 2020

By Peter Pedroncelli Published: July 13, 2017, 7:23 am
Africa set to be the fastest growing mobile userbase in the coming years. Photo - Answers AfricaAfrica set to be the fastest growing mobile userbase in the coming years. Photo - Answers Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa is set to be the fastest growing region in the world in terms of mobile subscriptions over the current five-year period, with over half a billion mobile subscribers expected in the continent by 2020.

A new research report from industry body Groupe Spéciale Mobile Association (GSMA) confirms that the African region will experience phenomenal growth from a mobile subscriptions perspective until the end of the current decade.

The amount of unique mobile subscribers in sub-Saharan Africa was numbered at 420 million at the end of 2016, and will reach 535 million during 2020, according to TechCentral.

The growth rate represents a shift from 43 percent of the African population, which is currently subscribed to a mobile service, to 50 percent of the continent using a mobile phone service.

The research suggests that mobile technologies and services generated around $110 billion of economic value in sub-Saharan Africa during 2016, or 7.7 percent of regional GDP, according to ITWebAfrica.

This is predicted to expand to $142 billion by 2020, or 8.6 percent of GDP in the region.

Fastest growing mobile subscriber base

Mobile has certainly been a success story across the continent, with around 270 million people in sub-Saharan Africa accessing the internet via their devices, while mobile money accounts top 280 million.

Mats Granryd, director general at Groupe Spéciale Mobile Association expressed his thoughts on the predicted growth and the inherent benefits that will be experienced across Africa.

“Sub-Saharan Africa will be a key engine of subscriber growth for the world’s mobile industry over the next few years as we connect millions of previously unconnected men, women and young people across the continent,” Granryd said in a statement.

“As Sub-Saharan Africa transitions to higher levels of mobile engagement, underpinned by growing access to mobile data services and smart devices, we are seeing a flourishing mobile ecosystem emerge, supported by growing investments by operators and others in mobile-focused startups and tech hubs,” he added.

“Building this digital society requires collaboration between governments and the mobile industry to develop the policies and programmes that create the right incentives for innovation and an enabling environment for extending connectivity to all,” Granryd said.

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