The GSMA’s Annual Report: Mobile Economy Sub-Saharan Africa
9 October 2020

The GSMA’s Annual Report: Mobile Economy Sub-Saharan Africa

9 October 2020

As a global connectivity service provider, Telecom26 is always eager to hear and learn from the opinions of industry analysts. So we were interested to read the GSMA’s annual Mobile Economy Sub-Saharan Africa report, an in-depth study that explores the latest data, forecasts and mobile trends for the region, which was published last week.

The report contains a raft of interesting figures about connectivity in Africa:

Subscriptions and Growth

  • 477m unique mobile subscriptions at the end of 2019, 272m of which are mobile Internet users = 26% of the population.
  • An additional 137m subscribers expected over the next five years will take the total mobile subscriber base to just over 614m, representing around half the population in the region and a CAGR growth rate of 4.3%.
  • SIM connections are significantly higher at 816m, accounted for by people owning more than one SIM. 
  • Spectrum availability will promote strong growth in 4G and 5G connectivity over the next few years; An estimated 27% (165m) of total mobile connections will be made on 4G and 3% (18.4m) on 5G by 2025 leaving 70% on 3G - and probably 2G. You can read the Telecom26 view on 5G in Africa here.
  • Less encouragingly, with nearly 800m people in the region still not connected to the mobile Internet, it has never been more urgent to close the digital divide.

Economic Growth

  • The report says that the strong growth in mobile connectivity across Sub-Saharan Africa will contribute around $184 billion in economic value to the region’s GDP by 2024.
  • As countries increasingly benefit from the improvements in productivity and efficiency brought about by the increased take-up of mobile services, this is expected to significantly boost the informal economy, which accounts for a large part of the mobile ecosystem in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Mobile money services, infrastructure and mobile-based content/services, as well as the application of mobile big data for social good, are expected to record the highest rise in the next five years.

GSMA Advice for Governments and regulators:

Governments and policymakers should implement policies to:

  • enhance access to connectivity
  • drive investment in more resilient digital infrastructure for the future
  • ensure efficient and effective management of spectrum to maximise the opportunities that mobile connectivity can bring to society.

IoT in Africa

The GSMA’s report also says that IoT solutions in Africa will be “central to efforts to improve productivity and efficiency in operational processes” as “COVID-19 has resulted in enterprises having to rethink the way they run their operations and interact with the rest of the economy”.

“However, IoT development in Sub-Saharan Africa is still at a nascent stage and faces several challenges:

  • limited investment and innovation in solutions and devices that address local use cases
  • unreliable power supply
  • low purchasing power among consumers and enterprises.

But the outlook remains positive. The number of cellular IoT connections in the region has doubled over the last five years to 16.7m at the end of 2019. Although this is only a fraction of the 1.7 billion global connections, the upward trend is expected to continue as commercial business models become more viable”

The GSMA says that “IoT has the potential to help address regionwide challenges in key sectors, such as energy, water, agriculture, transportation & logistics, manufacturing and healthcare.

With many countries in the region lacking an efficient system to deliver these essentials, demand for IoT-enabled solutions is set to increase over the coming years”.

Having built successful IoT healthcare networks in numerous countries across Africa we support this positive view.

Telecom26 in Africa

As a global connectivity service provider, with a growing business providing connectivity in Africa, the GSMA’s report made encouraging reading.

We will continue to invest in our networks across Africa and evolve our

portfolio based on the experiences of ourselves - and, of course, our customers.

We offer a full range of connectivity options including 5G (where networks exist), LTE, WiFi, private networks, 2G, 3G and 4G, as well as offshore.

To learn more about what is Telecom 26 is up to across Africa please Get In Touch and read these blogs about how we are helping with the rollout of digital IoT healthcare programmes in Mozambique, Ghana and Malawi, MozambiqueTanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

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