Sub-Saharan Africa leads world in fastest mobile growth – Report

Mobile bankingSub-Saharan Africa has the fastest mobile growth in the world, an industry report published November 11, 2013 has confirmed.

As at June 2013, there were 253 million unique mobile subscribers and 502 million connections, mobile operators body GSM Association (GSMA) said in its latest report “Sub-Saharan Africa Mobile Economy 2013”.

The region’s unique mobile subscriber base is said to have grown by 18% annually over the last five years, making it the fastest growing region globally.

The report was to analyze the socio-economic impact of the mobile industry in the region.

It revealed that the mobile industry contributed over 6% of the region’s GDP, higher than any other comparable region globally adding that “this is forecast to rise to over 8% by 2020”.

In monetary terms, the mobile ecosystem contributed $60 billion to the region’s GDP in 2012, and it is forecast to reach $119 billion in terms of GDP contributions by 2020, the report projected.

In 2012, the GSMA noted that the mobile ecosystem directly supported 3.3 million jobs and contributed $21 billion to public funding in the region, including license fees.

And in the next seven years, the economic effect of the industry in the region is set to double, the report says. “By 2020, mobile is set to double its economic effect, employing 6.6 million men and women in the region and contributing $42 billion to public funding,” it said.

“Beyond further growth for basic voice services, the region is starting to see an explosion in the uptake of mobile data,” said Tom Phillips, Chief Regulatory Officer at the GSMA.

Mr Philips indicated of an even greater opportunities are ahead.

However, the GSMA official warned of a short-term focus by some countries on generating high spectrum fees and maximising tax revenue which risks constraining the potential of the mobile internet.

The report highlighted that the future of the mobile industry depends on three key regulatory policy areas – spectrum management, spectrum harmonisation and taxation.

The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide. Spanning more than 220 countries, the GSMA unites nearly 800 of the world’s mobile operators with 250 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset and device makers, software companies, equipment providers and Internet companies, as well as organisations in industry sectors such as financial services, healthcare, media, transport and utilities.

By Ekow Quandzie

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