By Martin Ekpeke
A new study by the GSMA, a global body represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting nearly 800 operators with more than 300 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem has disclosed that mobile technologies and services generated $110 billion of economic value in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2016.
The report titled, ‘The Mobile Economy: Sub-Saharan Africa 2017’ noted that mobile technologies is driving the region’s economy and building a digital Africa.
It added that the $110 billion is equivalent to 7.7 per cent of regional GDP and the figure expected to grow to $142 billion, representing 8.6 per cent of GDP by 2020. The mobile ecosystem also directly and indirectly supported approximately 3.5 million jobs in the region last year, and made a $13 billion contribution to the public sector in the form of taxation.
Local mobile operators have invested $37 billion in their networks over the past five years, mainly to deploy new 3G/4G mobile broadband networks. About a third of mobile connections in region were running on mobile broadband networks at the end of last year, forecast to rise to 60 per cent by 2020. These new networks – alongside rising smartphone adoption – are driving demand for digital content and services.
“As Sub-Saharan Africa transitions to higher levels of mobile engagement, underpinned by growing access to mobile data services and smart devices, we are seeing a flourishing mobile ecosystem emerge, supported by growing investments by operators and others in mobile-focused start-ups and tech hubs,” said Mats Granryd, Director General of the GSMA.
Granryd urged collaboration between government and the mobile industry, stressing that building a digital society requires collaboration to develop the policies and programmes that create the right incentives for innovation and an enabling environment for extending connectivity to all.