In its annual Mobility Report unveiled at the AfricaCom 2103 Conference, held recently in Cape Town, technology manufacturer and vendor Ericsson noted that there has been a steady increase in the number of mobile connections – including Africa.
“The number of mobile subscriptions worldwide has grown approximately 7 percent year-on-year during Q3 2013. The number of mobile broadband subscriptions grew even faster over this period – at a rate of 40 percent year-on-year, exceeding 2 billion in 2013,” Ericsson said in their report.
Ericsson noted that in Africa there are currently over 800-million mobile subscriptions, which contributes to the 6.6-billion mobile subscriptions globally – and it is only going to grow.
“By Q3 2013, total mobile subscriptions were around 6.6 billion. By the end of 2019, they are expected to reach around 9.3 billion. Global mobile broadband subscriptions passed 2 billion in 2013, and are predicted to grow 4 times by 2019, reaching 8 billion.”
In Q3, Africa added 25-million new mobile subscriptions to networks across the continent.
The company said that the reason for the explosion in mobile subscriptions are that consumers are moving over from feature phones to smartphones as they become cheaper. “One of the main reasons for this is a notable increase in Asia Pacific and Middle East and Africa subscriptions, as people will be likely to exchange their basic phones for smartphones. This is due in part to the availability of smartphones in lower price ranges.”
Ericsson predicts that in just over two years, the amount of smartphones will outstrip the use of feature phones. “In 2016 there will be more smartphone subscriptions globally than those for basic phones. In 2019, almost all handsets in Western Europe and North America will be smartphones, compared to 50 percent of handset subscriptions in the Middle East and Africa.”
In terms of connectivity, Ericsson predicts big changes for LTE. “In 2013, the Middle East and Africa is dominated by GSM/EDGE, which represents around 80 percent of mobile subscriptions in the region. Dramatic changes will take place in the coming years and in 2019 WCDMA/HSPA and LTE will represent the same share of subscriptions as GSM/EDGE does today”.
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor