Africa’s mobile telephony market in 2012 bigger than EU or US – Report

Cell phonesA joint report published by the World Bank and African Development Bank (AfDB), has indicated that the mobile telephony market in Africa for the year 2012 is bigger than the European Union and the United States.

The report, eTransform Africa: The Transformational Use of Information and Communication Technologies in Africa, provides new data on the technological revolution that is taking place in Africa and its transformational impact on the continent’s development.

“At the start of 2012, there were some 650 million mobile subscriptions, making the African mobile telephony market bigger than either the EU or the United States,” said the report released December 10, 2012.

According to the report, some 68,000 km of submarine cable and over 615,000 km of national backbone networks have been laid, greatly increasing connectivity across Africa.

It indicated that the internet bandwidth available to Africa’s one billion citizens has grown 20-fold since 2008.

It says information and communication technology (ICT) innovations are delivering home-grown solutions in Africa, transforming businesses, and driving entrepreneurship and economic growth.

“The Internet and mobile phones are transforming the development landscape in Africa, injecting new dynamism in key sectors,” said Jamal Saghir, World Bank Director for Sustainable Development in the Africa Region.

Jamal Saghir adds: “The challenge is to scale up these innovations and success stories for greater social and economic impacts across Africa over the next decade.”

The report emphasized the need to build a competitive ICT industry to promote innovation, job creation, and boost the export potential of African companies.

“This report not only sheds light on the path Africa is already on, but also encourages continued creative thinking in how to utilize ICTs to benefit more Africans,” said Gilbert Mbesherubusa, AfDB’s acting Vice-President, Operations.

“Africa is rapidly becoming an ICT leader. Innovations that began in Africa – like dual SIM card mobile phones, or using mobile phones for remittance payments – are now spreading across the continent and beyond,” said Tim Kelly, Lead ICT Policy Specialist at the World Bank and an author of the report.

The challenge going forward is to ensure that ICT innovations benefit all Africans, including the poor and vulnerable, and those living in remote areas, Tim Kelly added.

By Ekow Quandzie

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