Connecting Africa is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 3099067.


Africa Heading for 1 Billion Mobile Subs – Ericsson Mobility Report

Article Image
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

2015 2016 2022 forecast CAGR* 2016-2022
Mobile subscriptions, Middle East and Africa 1,370m 1,400m 1,770m 4%
Mobile subscriptions, Sub-Saharan Africa** 660m 660m 950m 6%
Smartphone subscriptions, Middle East and Africa 350m 470m 1,220m 17%
Smartphone subscriptions, Sub-Saharan Africa** 180m 250m 770m 20%
Data Traffic per Smartphone, Middle East and Africa 1 Gbyte per month 1.3 Gbyte per month 8.2 Gbyte per month 36%
Data Traffic per Smartphone, Sub-Saharan Africa** 0.8 Gbyte per month 1.0 Gbyte per month 5.3 Gbyte per month 31%
Total Mobile Traffic, Middle East and Africa 0.4 Exabytes per month 0.6 Exabytes per month 8.4 Exabytes per month 55%
Total Mobile Traffic, Sub-Saharan Africa** 0.1 Exabytes per month 0.2 Exabytes per month 3.2 Exabytes per month 53%
* CAGR is calculated on unrounded figures Active devices
** These figures are also included in the figures for Middle East and Africa

For more from the Mobility Report, see Ericsson Eyes Half a Billion 5G Users by 2022

— Ray Le Maistre, Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, International Group Editor, Light Reading for Connecting Africa.

Innovation hub


Hot startup of the month: SA's FlexClub

South African startup FlexClub has launched a managed marketplace that helps independent drivers on digital platforms become vehicle owners.


Econet and X's Project Taara join forces to connect Africa

Econet Group and Google X's Project Taara are teaming up to deploy new high-speed Internet technology to communities across sub-Saharan Africa.

More Innovation hub

Industry announcements

More Industry announcements

Latest video

More videos

AfricaCom perspectives


AfricaCom Interview: Onica Makwakwa on closing the digital gender gap

The Alliance for Affordable Internet's head of Africa, Onica Makwakwa, shares her views on how to narrow the digital gender gap and the challenges keeping women offline on the continent.


AfricaCom Interview: Tunde Fafunwa on how the ACIP is fighting COVID-19

Tunde Fafunwa from the UN Economic Commission for Africa explains how the Africa Communication and Information Platform (ACIP) is helping Africa's battle against COVID-19.


AfricaCom Interview: Temidayo Oniosun on Africa's space and satellite industry

Space in Africa founder, Temidayo Oniosun, shares his views on the challenges and opportunities in the African space and satellite industry.

More AfricaCom perspectives

Partner perspectives

SD-WAN and satellite – how MNOs and telcos can enjoy the best of both worlds
By Ofer Asif, SVP BizDev, marketing and strategy at Spacecom

Africa's mobile operators need better roaming monetization for growth
By Damion Rose, product manager for Mobile Signaling and Roaming Solutions at BICS

How Africa's operators are driving socio-economic development
By Clémentine Fournier, VP Sales Africa at BICS

All Partner Perspectives

Flash poll

All polls


Safaricom Spark Fund Portfolio

Infographics archive


AfricaCom 2019 Preview

Slideshow archive

Like us on Facebook

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign Up