A new report by the GSMA dubbed the “Sub-Saharan Africa Mobile Economy 2013”, reveals that mobile contributes over six per cent of the region’s GDP, higher than any other comparable region globally, and this is forecast to rise to over eight per cent by 2020.
According to the report, the mobile ecosystem directly supported 3.3 million jobs and contributed US $21 billion to public funding in the region, including licence fees in 2012 but b 2020, it’s projected to employ double the number and contribute $42 billion to public funding.
Tom Phillips, Chief Regulatory Officer, GSMA said, “Despite the significant impact of the mobile industry in Sub-Saharan Africa in recent years, even greater opportunities are ahead.”
“Beyond further growth for basic voice services, the region is starting to see an explosion in the uptake of mobile data. However, a short-term focus by some countries on generating high spectrum fees and maximising tax revenue risks constraining the potential of the mobile Internet,” Phillips added.
Over the last five years Sub-Saharan Africa’s unique mobile subscriber base has grown by 18 per cent annually making it the fastest growing region globally. By mid-2013, there were 253 million unique mobile subscribers and 502 million connections.
Mobile has emerged as the main medium for accessing the internet across Sub-Saharan Africa as fixed line penetration declines, at below five per cent while 3G and 4G networks gain ground due to rising smartphone ownership.
However, the growth of mobile won’t come singlehandedly but there is need for a transparent and enabling policy environment. The report calls on better spectrum management, harmonisation and proper taxation to be put in place to have a transformative effect of mobile which address a range of socio-economic challenges in Sub-Saharan Africa
“The mobile industry has already had a transformative effect on the social and economic life of Sub-Saharan Africa but there is scope for far greater growth and innovation, if the right conditions are established,” continued Phillips. “In addressing key regulatory concerns, policy makers throughout the region have a major opportunity to unlock the potential of a dynamic and interconnected Africa.”