By Kester Omu
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country is among four countries in Sub-Saharan Africa that will account for half of the 115 million new subscribers expected in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2020, the GSMA in its new report titled, ‘The Mobile Economy: Sub-Saharan Africa 2017’ has disclosed.
The other three countries, where subscriber growth is expected to be concentrated in large numbers are the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia and Tanzania.
The new report, published at the GSMA Mobile 360 event in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, predicted that more than half a billion people across Sub-Saharan Africa will be subscribed to a mobile service by the end of 2020, adding that the number of unique mobile subscribers in the region will grow from 420 million, representing 43 per cent in 2016 to 535 million, representing 50 per cent in 2020.
According to the report, this will make the region the fastest growing mobile market in the world over this period, highlighting the Sub-Saharan Africa mobile ecosystem’s growing contribution to regional GDP, jobs, innovation and socio-economic development.
“Sub-Saharan Africa will be a key engine of subscriber growth for the world’s mobile industry over the next few years as we connect millions of previously unconnected men, women and young people across the continent,” said Mats Granryd, Director General of the GSMA.
Granryd believes that mobile is also offering sustainable solutions that address the lack of access to services such as health, education, electricity, clean water and financial services, which still affect large swathes of the population.
Connecting the Young and Closing the Gender Gap
Growth will also focus on currently under-represented segments such as the under-16 age group, which accounts for more than 40 per cent of the population in many countries, and women, who are currently 17 per cent less likely to have a mobile phone subscription than their male counterparts.
Mobile is also a vital tool in delivering digital and financial inclusion in Sub-Saharan Africa. Around 270 million people in the region now access the internet through mobile devices, while the number of registered mobile money accounts has reached 280 million. Mobile operators and others are also leveraging the ubiquity of mobile networks across the region to deliver services that are working towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)2 in areas such as energy, water and sanitation, healthcare, and education.