AFRICA – Africa’s mobile industry which currently contributes US$155 billion to the continent’s Gross Domesitc Product (GDP) is expected to expand in 4 years, contributing about US$184 billion to Africa’s GDP by 2024, according to recent data from GSMA.

The GSMA further noted that that as of 2019, 477 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa subscribed to mobile services, accounting for 45% of the population.

The mobile ecosystem also supported almost 3.8 million jobs (directly and indirectly) and made a substantial contribution to the funding of the public sector, with $17 billion raised through taxation.

GSMA reports that the mobile market in the region will reach several important milestones over the next five years.

The Mobile industry will have half a billion mobile subscribers in 2021, 1 billion mobile connections in 2024, and 50% subscriber penetration by 2025.

These achievements according to GSMA, will be underpinned by operators’ continued investment in network infrastructure despite of the economic uncertainty brought about by the Covid-19 crisis.

Operators are for instance expected to invest $52 billion in infrastructure rollouts between 2019 and 2025, a testimony to a strong investor confidence in the region’s future growth.

Smartphone adoption also continues to rise rapidly in the region, reaching 50% of total connections in 2020, as cheaper devices have become available.

Smartphone financing models are gaining traction, demonstrated by the recent partnership between Safaricom and Google, allowing low-income consumers to pay for 4G devices in daily instalments.

Over the next five years, the number of smartphone connections in Sub-Saharan Africa will almost double to reach 678 million by the end of 2025 – an adoption rate of 65%.

5G uptake is also slowing making inroads in the continent with trials having been conducted in Sub-Saharan Africa, including in Gabon, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda.

However, mass adoption of mobile 5G is not imminent in the region, as the continent has significant unused 4G capacity and 4G adoption still relatively low.

The focus in the near term for operators and other stakeholders is to increase 4G uptake.

This will involve strategies to make 4G devices more affordable and the provision of relevant digital content to drive demand for enhanced connectivity services.

GSMA forecasts that by 2025, there will be just under 30 million mobile 5G connections in Sub-Saharan Africa, equivalent to almost 3% of total mobile connections.

However, with nearly 800 million people in the region still not connected to the mobile internet, it has never been more urgent to close the digital divide, GSMA noted.

Consequently, governments and policymakers should implement policies to enhance access to connectivity and drive investment in more resilient digital infrastructure for the future.

This is crucial to reactivating the region’s economy postCovid-19 as digital technologies play an even more important role in society.

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