Increase of Africa’s mobile broadband spectrum will add $82b in GDP yearly, lift 40 million out of poverty by 2025 – GSMA

Greater allocation of spectrum for mobile broadband is vital for the economic and social development of sub-Saharan Africa adding $82 billion to the region’s GDP, new findings have shown.

The findings conducted by the GSM Association (GSMA) and Plum Consulting reveal that, across the region, the release of mobile broadband spectrum in the digital dividend and the 2.6GHz bands by 2015 in sub-Saharan Africa could “Create up to 27 million new jobs, increase GDP per capita by 5.2%, which will directly lift 40 million people out of poverty by 2025.”

The Association added that expansion of the spectrum would also “Increase gross domestic product (GDP) and government tax revenues by $82 billion and $18 billion per year respectively by 2025.”

The body expects 240 million mobile broadband connections in sub-Saharan Africa by 2015, compared to just four million fixed broadband connections and therefore called on countries across the region, including Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania, to urgently release harmonised spectrum for mobile broadband.

This will expand the reach and availability of affordable broadband services and help realise significant economic and human development gains for sub-Saharan Africa, said the findings.

“Currently, just 80MHz of spectrum is available for delivering mobile broadband service in a typical African market. In contrast, mobile operators in many middle and high-income markets have access up to 400MHz of spectrum for delivering mobile broadband,” the GSMA observed.

By licensing spectrum in the digital dividend and the 2.5GHz bands for mobile broadband, the GSMA said governments in the region have the opportunity to increase total spectrum available by approximately 70%.

“In particular, the digital dividend band, which is currently used for analogue television broadcasting, offers widespread mobile broadband coverage in rural areas and improved indoor penetration in urban areas. In rural areas alone, the digital dividend band could deliver mobile broadband service to between 40 to 80 per cent of the population,” it adds.

Commenting on the findings, Peter Lyons, Director of Spectrum Policy at the GSMA in Africa and Middle East, said “African governments must act now to release much-needed spectrum for Mobile Broadband services if they are to meet the UN’s 40% broadband target…increased spectrum will lower the cost of mobile devices, improve speed of data communication, and ultimately help nearly 40 million Africans escape poverty.”

Lyons continues, “If governments in sub-Saharan Africa allocate more spectrum for mobile broadband over a 10-year period from 2015, this would result in $235 billion of additional GDP and $50 billion in additional tax revenues. However, if the release of spectrum is delayed by five years, then these benefits would fall to $50 billion in additional GDP, and $10 billion in additional tax revenue.”

By Ekow Quandzie

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