Mats Granryd
. Egypt, Nigeria, S’ Africa account
for a third of the population
. Mobile ecosystem adds $150b to
SSA’s economy
More than half a billion people
across Africa are now subscribed to
mobile services as the continent
continues to migrate rapidly to
mobile broadband networks.
Specifically, the Global System for
Mobile telecommunications
Association, at the on-going GSMA
360 conference in Dar es Salaam,
Tanzania, said there are now 557
million unique subscribers in
Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya,
Angola, Ghana, among others.
Unique subscription, according to
the GSMA refers to users who have
subscribed to mobile services at the
end of the period, excluding M2M.
It stressed that subscribers differ
from connections such that a
unique user can have multiple
connections, which has been the
case in Nigeria.
GSMA, which presented findings of
a recently conducted study titled:
‘The Mobile Economy: Africa 2016’,
at the conference, said there has
been an increase in contribution of
Africa’s mobile industry to the
regional economy, including
employment and public funding.
Director General, GSMA, Mats
Granryd, said more than half a
billion people across Africa are
now subscribed to a mobile
network, providing them not just
with connectivity but a gateway to
a range of other essential services
in areas such as digital identity,
healthcare and financial services.
“The rapid move to mobile
broadband networks is also
unlocking new opportunities for
consumers, businesses and
governments, growing an
ecosystem that last year added
more than $150 billion in value to
Africa’s economy”, he said.
According to the report, network
investments and smartphones are
driving mobile broadband
The report found out that there
were 557 million unique mobile
subscribers across Africa at the end
of 2015, equivalent to 46 per cent
of the continent’s population,
making the continent the second
largest – but least penetrated –
mobile market in the world.
Africa’s three largest markets –
Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa –
together accounted for around a
third of the total subscriber base.
The number of unique mobile
subscribers is forecast to reach 725
million by 2020, accounting for 54
per cent of the expected population
by this point.
GSMA said African mobile
subscribers are rapidly migrating
to mobile broadband networks and
services, a result of ongoing
network rollouts and the increasing
availability of affordable mobile
broadband devices and tariffs.
According to it, mobile broadband
(3G/4G) accounted for just over a
quarter of total connections at the
end of 2015, but is expected to
account for almost two-thirds by
“By mid-2016, there were 72 live 4G
networks in 32 countries across
Africa, half of which have launched
in the last two years. Meanwhile,
the number of smartphone
connections in Africa is forecast to
more than triple over the next five
years, rising from 226 million in
2015 to 720 million by 2020”, the
report noted.
The association said mobile’s
contribution to African GDP, jobs
and public funding would increase,
adding that the use of mobile
technologies and services across
Africa generated $153 billion in
economic value last year,
equivalent to 6.7 per cent of the
region’s GDP.
This contribution is expected to
increase to $214 billion by 2020
(7.6 per cent of expected GDP) as
countries in Africa continue to
benefit from the improvements in
productivity and efficiency brought
about by increased take-up of
mobile services. Africa’s mobile
ecosystem also supported 3.8
million jobs in 2015 and made a
$17 billion contribution to the
public sector via general taxation.
The number of jobs supported is
forecast to rise to 4.5 million by
2020, while the tax contribution is
expected to increase to $20.5
The report also explained how
mobile is powering innovation and
entrepreneurship across Africa. It
noted that there are now
approximately 310 active
technology hubs across the region,
including 180 accelerators or
incubators. Mobile operators are
supporting this ecosystem by
opening up APIs to third-party
developers in areas such as
messaging, billing, location and
mobile money, which has allowed
start-ups to scale quickly.
Mobile technology is also playing a
central role in addressing many of
the social challenges in Africa,
including the ability to provide
citizens with official identities,
tackling the ‘digital divide’ by
enabling access to the mobile
internet, and delivering financial
inclusion via mobile money