Africa is nearing the 1 billion mark for total mobile connections, according to statistics from the latest Ericsson Mobility report.
According to the report, Africa added 9 new million mobile subscriptions during the first quarter of 2017, ending March with a total of 985 million, which equates to an 81% mobile penetration rate for the continent. Of the 9 million new subscriptions during the January-March timeframe, 3 million of those were in Nigeria.
The next few years should see a dramatic shift away from GSM and EDGE (enhanced data for GSM evolution) connections in the broader Middle East and Africa region towards more 3G and 4G connectivity, believes the Ericsson forecasting team. "In Middle East and Africa, where the penetration of mobile broadband is currently lower than in other regions, the number of mobile broadband subscriptions is expected to increase significantly. Driving factors include a growing young population and more affordable smartphones. In mature markets, mobile broadband subscription growth is largely due to individuals connecting more devices," the team states in the report.
"During the 2016-2022 timeframe, Middle East and Africa will dramatically shift from a region with a majority of GSM/EDGE-only subscriptions, to a region where 80 percent of the subscriptions will be WCDMA/HSPA and LTE. However, GSM/EDGE-only subscriptions will still account for a significant share of subscriptions by 2022," the team notes.
And as the table below shows, mobile data usage is expected to grow significantly.
Table 1: Market Stats and Forecasts, Middle East & Africa
Mobile subscriptions, Middle East and Africa
Mobile subscriptions, Sub-Saharan Africa**
Smartphone subscriptions, Middle East and Africa
Smartphone subscriptions, Sub-Saharan Africa**
Data Traffic per Smartphone, Middle East and Africa
1 Gbyte per month
1.3 Gbyte per month
8.2 Gbyte per month
Data Traffic per Smartphone, Sub-Saharan Africa**
0.8 Gbyte per month
1.0 Gbyte per month
5.3 Gbyte per month
Total Mobile Traffic, Middle East and Africa
0.4 Exabytes per month
0.6 Exabytes per month
8.4 Exabytes per month
Total Mobile Traffic, Sub-Saharan Africa**
0.1 Exabytes per month
0.2 Exabytes per month
3.2 Exabytes per month
* CAGR is calculated on unrounded figures Active devices
** These figures are also included in the figures for Middle East and Africa
In an effort to cement its position as the gateway between Egypt and the rest of Africa, Liquid Telecom plans significant data center and network investments in the country during the next three years.