Mobile, M2M and data driving Africa’s connectivity

There are 695 million mobile connections in Africa, representing 65% penetration, with one in four people connected by mobile phones and 22 million mobile broadband subscribers. These were just a few statistics communicated to delegates at AfricaCom 2012, hosted in Cape Town.

Alan Knott-Craig, CEO of South African mobile operator Cell C. (Image: File)

Introducing keynote speaker Alan Knott-Craig, CEO of South African mobile operator Cell C, Mark Newman, Chief Research Officer at Informa Telecoms & Media, said the evolution from connectivity to broadband and IP services, that characterises the African communications landscape, represents a 65 billion Dollar industry in terms of end user revenue.

Newman said that the generation of data and data traffic remains a key influence in the market, as does the increase in confidence in LTE.

“The emphasis is on wireless to grow broadband on the continent… machine-to-machine can be used to leapfrog over old world technologies,” Newman explained.

In his keynote presentation, Knott-Craig emphasised the role of telecommunications “as a means to an end” and said that more attention should be paid to the end result and what should be achieved using technology.

Knott-Craig also mentioned the relevance of third and fourth operators across Africa and said that their main function was to maintain stability and drive down costs.

“Countries like Tanzania, DRC and Nigeria have been successful in launching third and fourth operators,” he said.

Whilst the rollout of LTE in Africa does offer an opportunity for increased speed of connectivity, Knott-Craig reiterated that this is dependent on spectrum allocation and availability.

As far as affordable communication within the country is concerned, he added that there is little point in trying to make communication affordable unless there is communication in place.

Chris Tredger, Online Editor