Africa’s mobile subscriptions to reach one billion in 2016 – Research

The number of mobile subscriptions in Africa is set to reach one billion in 2016, according to a new research by UK-based Informa Telecoms & Media.

According to Informa, Africa’s mobile-subscription count overtook that of Western Europe during 2011 second quarter and then overtook the Americas in 2011 third quarter.

The research released November 3, 2011 indicates that there were over 616 million mobile subscriptions in Africa at the end of September 2011, which means that the mobile market on the continent is second only to Asia-Pacific in terms of mobile subscription numbers.

The research forecasts that Africa will retain its position as the second biggest regional mobile market by subscriptions for the next five years.

“Africa’s mobile market is heading towards a major landmark: the number of mobile subscriptions on the continent will cross the one billion mark in 2016 according to our latest forecast,” said Matthew Reed, head of mobile research for the Middle East and Africa at Informa Telecoms & Media.

Mr Reed adds, “The combination in Africa of a still relatively immature telecoms market with factors including population growth, strong competition among providers and the increasing affordability of mobile devices, explains Africa’s move up the regional mobile-market rankings as well as its strong growth forecast.”

Informa says there is a strong trend for Africa mobile subscribers to have multiple SIM cards and consequently the number of unique users of mobile services on the continent is smaller than the number of subscriptions. “The number of unique users in Africa at end-2016 is forecasted to be 572.35 million.”

On the continent’s market share, the research indicates that Nigeria will continue to be Africa’s biggest mobile market by subscriptions, with a forecasted 152.09 million subscriptions at end-2016 followed by Egypt with a forecasted 118.03 million subscriptions at end-2016.

South Africa, the continent’s third largest mobile market, will have 80.56 million mobile subscriptions at end-2016, it added.

Africa, Informa said, is forecasted to have a mobile penetration rate of 86.92% at end-2016, still lower than in other regions.

In terms of 3G (WCDMA) subscriptions and market share in Africa, Mr. Reed said it will grow strongly over the coming years. “The mobile-market-share held by WCDMA is forecasted to rise from 6.6% at end-2011 to 46% at end-2016, almost equalling GSM’s market-share of 47.5% at end-2016,” he said.

The GSM Association said November 9, 2011 that the number of subscribers across Africa has grown by almost 20% each year and will reach more than 735 million by the end of 2012.

As the African market matures, Informa says the retention of existing customers is becoming increasingly important.

A recent survey by Informa Telecoms & Media into the views of African operators on customer loyalty found that 21.8% of respondents ranked customer retention as their main priority while 18.2% said it was customer acquisition, and 60% said that customer retention and customer acquisition were equally important.

By Ekow Quandzie

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