According to research firm Frost& Sullivan, the mobile communications markets of Southern Africa, which includes Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, experienced a subscriber growth of more than 10% in the last five years, fuelled by mobile data services demand.
The growth has been even more significant in markets with high mobile penetration levels, such as Botswana and Namibia.
“The small addressable markets in these two countries constrain long-term growth and the average revenue per user (ARPU) for voice is declining due to greater competition. Therefore, mobile operators are focused on retention strategies and extending data offerings to protect their market shares”, said Frost & Sullivan industry analyst, Protea Hirschel.
Frost & Sullivan’s ‘Southern African Mobile Communications Market” study reveals that Zambia’s share in the region is almost 50%, followed by Botswana’s with 26%. The study estimates a fall in Zambia’s share to around 38%, due to emerging trends in rivals like Zimbabwe, recently overcoming record-breaking hyperinflation.
“Consumers in these four countries have looked to mobile communications as an alternative to fixed line networks. These have been not been extended appreciably over the last ten years. Additionally, consumers are likely to look to mobile operators for Internet connectivity”, added Hirschel.
Namibia and Botswana have well established 3G networks, while Zimbabwe and Zambia need to catch up faster this year, observed the study.
A deeper analysis of these markets reveals an increase in low-income subscribers, leading to a decline in the ARPU (average revenue per user) levels and the increasing importance of value-added services in the face of increased competition.
“Network infrastructure that supports broadband speeds is a vital component of this strategy”, explained Hirschel, adding that subsidized handsets could be part from operator’s retention strategies.
Southern African Mobile Communications Market is part of the Mobile & Wireless Growth Partnership Services programme, which also includes separate research in various African markets. The studies can be found here.