The Global System for Mobile communication Association (GSMA) says more than half a billion people across Sub-Saharan Africa would be subscribed to a mobile service by the end of the decade.
This is contained in GSMA report titled: “The Mobile Economy: Sub-Saharan Africa, 2017”.
Mr. Mats Granryd, Director General of GSMA, said in a statement on Wednesday in Lagos that the report was authored by GSMA Intelligence, the research arm of the association.
He said that the number of unique mobile subscribers in Sub-Saharan Africa as at the end of 2016 was 420 million, which accounted for 43 per cent of the population.
He, however, said that the figure would grow to 535 million, which would be 50 per cent of the population in 2020.
According to him, the mobile subscription growth would make Sub-Saharan Africa the fastest growing region in the world, over the period.
“Sub-Saharan Africa mobile ecosystem will grow contribution to regional GDP, jobs, innovation and socio-economic development.
“Sub-Saharan Africa will be a key engine of subscriber growth for the world’s mobile industry over the next few years.
“This is as we connect millions of previously unconnected men, women and young people across the continent.
“Mobile is also offering sustainable solutions that address the lack of access to services such as health, education, electricity, clean water and financial services, which still affect large swathes of the population,’’ he said.
Granryd said the subscriber growth was expected to be concentrated in large, under penetrated markets such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Nigeria and Tanzania.
He said that these countries would account for half of the 115 million new subscribers expected in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2020.
According to him, mobile growth will also focus on currently under-represented segments such as the under-16 age group, which accounts for more than 40 per cent of the population in many countries.
He said that growth would also focus on women, who were currently 17 per cent less likely to have a mobile phone subscription than their male counterparts.
Granryd said that the mobile phone was also a vital tool in delivering digital and financial inclusion in Sub-Saharan Africa.
He said that around 270 million people in the region now access the internet through mobile devices.
The GSMA Director General said that the number of registered mobile money accounts had reached 280 million.
According to him, mobile operators and others are also leveraging the ubiquity of mobile networks across the region to deliver services.
“These services are working towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in areas such as energy, water and sanitation, healthcare and education,’’ he added.