Over half a billion people across Africa are now subscribed to mobile services, a new study by mobile industry pressure group, GSMA, has shown.
The study, “The Mobile Economy: Africa 2016,” was unveiled this week at the GSMA Mobile 360 – Africa event in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
According to the report, there were 557 million unique mobile subscribers across Africa at the end of 2015, equivalent to 46 per cent of the continent’s population, making Africa the second-largest – but least penetrated – mobile market in the world.
Africa’s three largest markets – Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa – together accounted for around a third of the total subscriber base. The number of unique mobile subscribers is forecast to reach 725 million by 2020, accounting for 54 per cent of the expected population by this point.
“More than half a billion people across Africa are now subscribed to a mobile network, providing them not just with connectivity but a gateway to a range of other essential services in areas such as digital identity, healthcare and financial services,” Mats Granryd, Director General, GSMA, says.
The study also revealed that the African mobile subscribers are rapidly migrating to mobile broadband networks and services, a result of ongoing network rollouts and the increasing availability of affordable mobile broadband devices and tariffs.
Mobile broadband (3G/4G) accounted for just over a quarter of total connections at the end of 2015, but is expected to account for almost two-thirds by 2020. By mid-2016, there were 72 live 4G networks in 32 countries across Africa, half of which have launched in the last two years.