New research by Informa Telecoms & Media reports that Africa is now the second most connected region globally in terms of mobile subscribers compared to 2010’s fourth place.
According to the report, there were over 616 million mobile subscriptions on the continent by the end of September, second only to Asia-Pacific beating Western Europe and Americas.
Matthew Reed, head of mobile research for the Middle East and Africa at Informa Telecoms & Media says the growth could have been due to a number of factors.
He said, “The combination in Africa of a still relatively immature telecoms market with factors including population growth, strong competition among providers and the increasing affordability of mobile devices, explains Africa’s move up the regional mobile-market rankings as well as its strong growth forecast.”
Reid added,“Africa’s mobile market is heading towards a major landmark: the number of mobile subscriptions on the continent will cross the one billion mark in 2016 according to our latest forecast.”
According to the reports, Africa will retain the top two mobile market by subscriptions for the coming five years.
Questions however arise on the tendency for Africa mobile subscribers to have multiple SIM cards making the number of unique mobile phone users smaller than the number of subscriptions.
The report forecasts the number of unique users on the continent to be at 572.35 million by end of 2016 with Nigeria leading at 152.09 followed by Egypt at 118.03 million subscriptions and South Africa at third position with 80.56 million mobile subscriptions.
Though Africa is expected to have a mobile penetration rate of 86.92% at end-2016, the analysts say the penetration will still be lower than in other regions.