Mobile subscriber base to reach one billion by 2015.
Boasting the world’s highest growth rate in mobile subscriptions, Africa’s mobile subscriber base is set to break the 750 million barrier by the end of the year, while the one billion mark also looks set to be trounced by the end of 2015.
According to forecasts by Informa Telecoms & Media, the number of mobile subscriptions in Africa is poised to increase by 17.5 per cent over the year to end-2012; a higher rate than any other major world region and above the world average of 10.75 per cent over the same period.
Africa currently sits behind Asia/Pacific as the second-largest mobile market region by subscription count, ahead of Latin America, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, North America and the Middle East.
"Africa's mobile market continues to grow robustly, driven by competition among mobile operators, the availability of new data services and strong economic growth on the continent," said Matthew Reed, principal analyst for Africa and the Middle East at Informa Telecoms & Media.
"And substantial opportunities for further growth remain, because the rate of mobile penetration in Africa is the lowest among major world regions and fixed networks are under-developed or absent across much of the continent," he continued.
Meanwhile, Informa also forecasts that the number of mobile subscriptions in Africa will reach 761 million by the end of 2012 and will rise to 1.13 billion at the end of 2017. However, the rate of mobile penetration in Africa at the end of September was 67.55 per cent; the lowest rate among major world regions and well below the world average of 91 per cent.
One of the key factors behind the take-up of mobile data services in Africa has been the introduction of 3G networks, while the improvements in international connectivity and the affordability of data-enabled devices has also played a crucial role. And in recent months, operators in five African countries (Angola, Mauritius, Namibia, South Africa and Tanzania) have launched LTE services ahead of some Europe’s ostensibly more developed markets.
However, with LTE subscription numbers in Africa currently at a lowly 5,000, it is thought that take-up of LTE services are likely to be limited to niche markets of more-affluent business and consumer customers for the foreseeable future.