Sub-Saharan Africa is a large, diverse region, encompassing 37 countries ranging from South Africa and Nigeria, to Angola, Cameroon, and Mali.
It’s a region where mobile technology is going through a major period of change, according to trade body the GSMA. More than 90 percent of the population were covered by 2G networks at the end of 2017, but more advanced networks are now beginning to take hold.
“Future growth opportunities will increasingly be concentrated in rural and low-ARPU (average revenue per user) markets, as well as younger demographic groups,” the GSMA notes in its most recent report on the region.
“World Bank data indicates that around 40 percent of the population in the region is under the age of 16, a demographic segment that has significantly lower levels of mobile ownership than the population as a whole.”
Other growth considerations include the cost of services for less affluent consumers and the volume of customers, about 50 percent, living in rural environments.
Here’s what you need to know about the current and future mobile landscape in the region.
State of play: 10 key stats about mobile in Africa
- Three-quarters of the population have a SIM connection. That translates to 747 million people.
- However, mobile subscriber penetration is just 44 percent, well behind a global average of 66 percent.
- Despite this, with 444 million mobile subscribers, the region is home to nearly nine percent of all global mobile subscriptions.
- Around a third of mobile users, 250 million, have a smartphone.
- The number of mobile internet subscribers in Sub-Saharan Africa has quadrupled since the start of the decade. For many users it’s the only way they can get online.
- Mobile broadband is currently available to two-thirds of the regional population.
- That means 400 million people in the region cannot access mobile broadband services at present, due to a lack of coverage.
- Six new 4G networks launched in the first half of 2018. There are now 120 such networks in the region. New networks and cheaper smartphones are helping drive the transition to mobile broadband.
- Getting online is expensive. Purchasing a handset and 500MB of data costs an average 10 percent of monthly income.
- At the end of 2017, there were 135 live mobile money services found in 39 countries across the region, with 122 million active accounts.
Looking ahead: 10 predictions for 2025
As well as outlining current market data, the GSMA also set out how it expects the Sub-Saharan mobile ecosystem to evolve.
- By 2025 mobile broadband will account for 87 percent of mobile connections. The current figure for these services is 38 percent.
- 3G will account for 60 percent of all mobile connections by 2025.
- Nearly 300 million new subscribers are expected to access the mobile internet in the next seven years.
- Active SIM connections are predicted to hit one billion in 2025, up from 747 million today.
- Subscriber numbers are expected to account for half the population in 2023, rising to 52 percent in 2025.
- By 2025 it’s anticipated that 634 million people in the region will be mobile subscribers, up from 44 percent and 444 million people in 2017.
- After witnessing aggressive subscriber growth in recent years, the adoption curve will slow to “half the level recorded over the preceding five years”, the report notes.
- However, at a CAGR of 4.8 percent for the period 2017-2022, the regional subscribe base will still be “more than double the global growth rate over the same period”.
- It’s expected that there will be 690 million active smartphones in Sub-Saharan Africa. That’s a growth of 440 million handsets in the next eight years.
- Sub-Saharan Africa will be the last region to see 5G services launch, the GSMA predicts. It expects the first commercial 5G services to be launched in the region by 2021, with 12 million 5G connections, or about 2.6 percent of the total connection base, in 2025.
Unlocking mobile’s potential: three key considerations
Although the picture painted by the GSMA is predominantly a positive one, the Sub-Saharan region will continue to lag behind others on key indices such as smartphone penetration and mobile subscriptions.
Nonetheless, the report highlights how MNO capex, mobile operator and start-up initiatives, as well as the rise of tech hubs in the region, are all playing a role in turning this potential into a reality.
On the issue of reaching rural audiences alone, the report notes: “For operators, revenue from rural sites is around a 10th of that for urban areas, owing to the low purchasing power of most rural dwellers, while backhaul, power and taxes account for up to 60 percent of the cost of providing mobile broadband in rural areas.”
For mobile ambitions in the region to be realized, several critical factors need to continue to be addressed. Here are three of them:
1. Making mobile and mobile internet more affordable
A handset and 500MB of data costs 10 percent of an average monthly income, double the five percent threshold recommended by the UN Broadband Commission. Addressing this issue will therefore be essential for driving future growth.
Data and subscription packages that cater for less cash-rich consumers are one part of the equation. But, alongside that shift, making handsets cheaper for consumers will also help.
The cost of purchasing smartphones has dropped considerably in the past five years. As the report observes: “The average selling price of smartphones has fallen below $120 in most markets, with sub-$100 smartphones, mostly from Asian manufacturers such as Gionee and Tecno, now widely available across the region.”
Government policies can also play a role in this area, driving digital inclusion and growing the digital economy in the process. In Ghana, proposals to remove customs duties of 20 percent on handsets and smartphones have been predicted to contribute to an additional three million handset purchases, with nearly one million of these being 3G-enabled devices.
2. Creating compelling reasons to get connected
Tech companies are seeking to tap into developing markets like Sub-Saharan Africa by offering ‘skinnier’ versions of their apps. Using minimal data, products like Facebook Lite, Facebook Messenger Lite, Twitter Lite, Google Go and others, are quicker and cheaper to use than their full-data equivalents.
Last year Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai announced plans to train 100,000 software developers in Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa, as well as creating in-person and online training packages designed to help 10 million people across the continent become more employable by developing their online skills.
SEE: IT pro’s guide to the evolution and impact of 5G technology (free PDF)
Elsewhere, opportunities abound for governments in the region to offer more mobile-services — including mobile payment services, as well as products and content in different languages.
The total value of mobile money transactions in Sub-Saharan Africa last year was worth $19.9bn, as individual transactions grew by 17.9 per cent to 1.2 billion year over year.
3. Incentivizing investment and expansion
Finally, given the cost of expanding service provision, stakeholders will also need to work together to do so in the most cost-effective manner possible.
Elements of this collaboration, such as infrastructure sharing, are already in place. We can expect to see more of this type of activity in the future.
Other considerations include: effective use of spectrum, including harnessing wavelengths currently being used for other services like analog TV, tax reform, and other policy levers designed to encourage operator investment.
The strategic investment of government funds to support training, local content provision, the move to m-government and improving mobile connectivity should also not be overlooked.
In 2017, for example, the Zimbabwean government approved a $250m project designed to improve mobile provision in rural areas, by funding more than 600 towers and base stations in areas with poor connectivity.
Given the size and scale of Sub-Saharan Africa, the evolution of the mobile landscape won’t be consistent. Due to the cost and technical challenges of upgrading networks and reaching new consumers, stakeholders must work together if the region’s mobile future is to be realized.
These joint efforts will require continued investment in infrastructure, content and skills, as mobile technologies continue to positively impact the lives of millions of people across the region.
There are already promising signs that this change is happening, but the size and scale of this challenge should not be underestimated.
Previous and related coverage
Where next for mobile in the Middle East? Big changes are coming
The Middle East and North Africa is a complex region, but mobile usage and services are changing fast.
What’s driving Middle East’s rush to social media?
The rise of visually orientated social networks, video, and messaging apps is helping shape usage.
Cybercrime: Why can’t the Middle East get to grips with the threats?
The region’s been investing heavily in tackling cybercrime but remains disproportionately affected.
Skype banned, WhatsApp blocked: What’s Middle East’s problem with messenger apps?
Some Middle Eastern countries seem to have a difficult relationship with VoIP services and messenger apps.
Get ready for Africa to emerge as a cybersecurity powerhouse TechRepublic
Africa’s growing technology adoption and economy means increased potential for impactful cyberevents, says IBM Security’s Caleb Barlow.
New Google Go app tackles slow internet speeds in Africa CNET
Google Go reduces the amount of data needed to display search results by 40 percent.
Bentley’s First Electric Car Will Be Sickeningly Fast
Bentley’s CEO stressed that the brand will not build an electric vehicle that follows any of the current EV trends. “What we will not do is try and make them look like electric cars,” Hallmark said. He did not reveal what the exterior and body of the EV will be like but hinted at its shape as being “incremental to the current Bentley range of Continental GT coupe and convertible, Flying Spur sedan and Bentayga SUV.” Hallmark added that these models will eventually also switch to fully electric power.
When talking about price, Hallmark said the new EV would be in the range of the Mulsanne despite not being a limousine. Bentley discontinued the Mulsanne in 2020, with prices for models of that year listing as high as $348,000, per Car and Driver. Automotive News Europe reported that one of the versions of Bentley’s EV will cost about $260,000.
The engine will have 1400 horsepower, break 0 to 97 kilometers per hour in 1.5 seconds, and its main attribute will be “effortless overtaking performance from a huge amount of torque-on-demand,” Hallmark said. “If we are 650 hp now with GT Speed, we will be double that with the BEV,” Hallmark explained. The electric Bentley will go into production at the new “Bentley Dream Factory” in Crewe. The plant is part of a $3.4 billion investment for Bentley’s electric future.
How To Back Up Your Mac To iCloud
iCloud can come in clutch in a variety of situations. For example, you may not need to wrestle with Migration Assistant when setting up a new Mac if you’ve backed up all your important data to iCloud. However, there’s a reason Apple still puts Time Machine on every Mac the company sells: Time Machine backs up your Mac’s entire system, including all your apps and files. Not only that, but Time Machine also keeps a version history of every change you make to your Mac on an hourly and daily basis.
Depending on the sizes of both your Time Machine drive and your Mac’s internal storage drive, your Time Machine history could stretch back days, months, or even years. Time Machine can be a real lifesaver, too, if the developer of an app you use stops publishing it since you can always just reinstall it from your Time Machine backup. You almost can’t have too many backups of your important data, so there’s not much reason not to take advantage of both Time Machine and iCloud when protecting the files on your Mac. And since both options handle backups differently than the other, you’re not getting duplicate backups but rather a more expansive backup overall.
Honda Prologue EV SUV Gets First Design Preview Ahead Of US Launch
Honda has big ambitions for the Prologue, though we’ve expressed skepticism about the automaker’s projected sales targets in the past. Since then, of course, the world has changed considerable. The global fuel crisis — led in no small part by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — has seen prices spike worldwide, and the car market could have taken on a much different shape by the time Honda’s EV finally hits the ground in 2024. As reported by The Washington Post on May 18, 2022, United States Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen stated that the cost of gasoline has increased by $4 across the country, and there’s no expectation for that to change any time soon.
That requires actually building EVs to meet demand, however, something every automaker has experienced issues with in the past few years. The impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on global supply chains has been considerable, and shows no signs of alleviating any time soon. Honda may have plenty of demand for the 2024 Prologue, then, but whether it can actually meet that remains uncertain.
At least the dealerships themselves should be ready for the EV future, even if production lines aren’t necessarily at capacity. The early designs for the modular, charging station-equipped locations show a layout that Honda claims will scale according to the total number of EVs it actually sells. The automaker plans to roll out 30 different EV models by 2030, using not only Ultium but its own Honda e:Architecture, at which point it also expects to have sold a whopping 500,000 EVs overall.
NY AG is investigating Twitch, Discord and 4chan for their role in the Buffalo mass shooting – TechCrunch
New York Attorney General Letitia James will launch an investigation into the role that social media and online message boards...
2 vulnerabilities with 9.8 severity ratings are under exploit. A 3rd looms
Getty Images Malicious hackers, some believed to be state-backed, are actively exploiting two unrelated vulnerabilities—both with severity ratings of 9.8...
Bentley’s First Electric Car Will Be Sickeningly Fast
Bentley’s CEO stressed that the brand will not build an electric vehicle that follows any of the current EV trends....
Buffalo shooter invited others to his private Discord ‘diary’ 30 minutes before attack – TechCrunch
Discord has provided more insight into how the shooter who opened fire in a Buffalo, New York supermarket over the...
North Korea’s COVID outbreak taking “favorable turn” as cases exceed 1.7M
Enlarge / People watch a television broadcast showing a file image of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a...
Social2 years ago
CrashPlan for Small Business Review
Social1 month ago
Web.com website builder review
Gadgets4 years ago
A fictional Facebook Portal videochat with Mark Zuckerberg – TechCrunch
Mobile4 years ago
Memory raises $5M to bring AI to time tracking – TechCrunch
Cars3 years ago
What’s the best cloud storage for you?
Social4 years ago
iPhone XS priciest yet in South Korea
Security3 years ago
Google latest cloud to be Australian government certified
Social4 years ago
Apple’s new iPad Pro aims to keep enterprise momentum