The African continent has become the second largest mobile market – and fastest growing – in the world, after surpassing Latin America, and sitting comfortably behind Asia. In a recent GSMA Africa Mobile Observatory 2011 report, it was noted that Africa has reached 649 million mobile connections in the last part of the year, while passing the 50% mobile penetration only in 2010.
“The mobile industry in Africa is booming and a catalyst for immense growth, but there is scope for far greater development. To take full advantage of its potential, African countries need to both allocate more spectrum for the provision of mobile broadband services, as well as introduce tax cuts for the industry.
By doing so, they will increase consumption of mobile services, thereby boosting their economic and social development,” said Peter Lyons, director of spectrum policy for Africa and Middle East at GSMA.
According to the report, South Africa has about 6% mobile broadband penetration, which is due to the fact that the country has a better developed infrastructure, while Morocco has approximately 2.8% penetration.
“It adds that South African mobile network operators contribute 3.5% to the county’s gross domestic product (GDP). In regards to spectrum licensing, the country trails African peers like Nigeria, Tunisia and Morocco respectively,” IT Web’s Digital Life wrote.
“It is also important to note the waiving of subscription fees that the majority of operators previously charged for SIM cards. This minimises barriers to the uptake of mobile services in Africa,” added Frost & Sullivan senior analyst Vitalis Ozianyi.
A surprising number is the fact that Africa has added 20% more subscribers each year for the last five years, and it’s predicted that the total number of mobile subscribers in Africa in 2012 will be more than 735 million.
Charlie Fripp – Acting Online editor