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.


Nigeria sees mobile subs boom – Ericsson

Article Image
Africa continues to add mobile subscribers despite a slowdown globally caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, with the biggest uptick seen in Nigeria.

According to the Q2 Update of the Ericsson Mobility Report, released this month, Africa added 12 million new mobile subscriptions during the second quarter of 2020, half of which were in Nigeria and 1 million of which were in South Africa.

According to Omdia stats, at the end of March Nigeria had a total of 183.6 million mobile subscribers across four networks.

In comparison, North America only added a total of 1 million subscribers in the quarter, as did Central and Eastern Europe and the Middle East, while South America lost 2 million subscribers.

Total and net additions for mobile subscriptions Q2 2020 (million)
Source: Ericsson Mobility Report
Source: Ericsson Mobility Report

Ericsson said that in the second quarter of 2020, the total number of global mobile subscriptions was about 7.9 billion, with a net addition of 15 million subscriptions during the quarter, four-fifths of which were in Africa.

The year-on-year growth of mobile subscriptions was only about 2%, and the low growth rate was most likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdown restrictions.

China also added 6 million subscriptions during the quarter, but subscriptions declined by 4 million in India, Nepal and Bhutan.

Global mobile subscription penetration was 103% in the quarter, while Africa's penetration rate was 83%. Africa now has a total of over 1 billion mobile subscribers.

Subscription penetration Q2 2020 (% of population)
Source: Ericsson Mobility Report
Source: Ericsson Mobility Report

The number of mobile broadband subscriptions grew by about 60 million in Q2 2020, to reach about 6.4 billion, which reflects a year-on-year increase of about 7%.

When it comes to 5G subscriptions, Ericsson found that 5G-capable devices grew by around 50 million during the quarter to reach around 80 million.

Meanwhile LTE (4G) subscriptions increased by approximately 120 million to reach a total of around 4.5 billion, equaling 57% of all mobile subscriptions.

The report said that about 280 million smartphones were sold in Q2 2020 and that globally 74% of all mobile phone subscriptions are now associated with smartphones.

Traffic ticks up
Global mobile network data traffic grew 53% year-on-year, which Ericsson said was at a more normal level "compared to the extraordinary peak in 2018 and the first part of 2019."

The quarter-on-quarter growth rate was close to 11%, which is slightly lower than in the first quarter when it reached 14%.

"COVID-19 lockdown restrictions continued to impact consumer behavior during Q2 2020, which in turn affected mobile networks by geographically shifting traffic loads," Ericsson said.

It found that daytime loads moved, to a degree, from city centers to suburban residential areas due to more homeworking, and this was most pronounced in areas with limited penetration of fixed residential broadband connections.

"Over the long term, traffic growth is driven by both the rising number of smartphone subscriptions and an increasing average data volume per subscription, fueled primarily by increased viewing of video content," the report said.

Global mobile network data traffic growth
Source: Ericsson traffic measurements (Q2 2020)
Source: Ericsson traffic measurements (Q2 2020)

— Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa

Innovation hub


Connecting Africa Podcast: S2 Ep. 4 – Agri-fintech, from kibbutz to Kenya

The Connecting Africa Podcast team speak to Israeli-Kenyan startup Avenews' co-founder and CEO, Shalom Ben-Or, about his fintech super-app that has been built specifically for Africa's agriculture industry.


Hot startup of the month: Cloud-native developer Deimos

This month's hot startup is pan-African cloud technology and professional services company Deimos which is on a mission to be the leading cloud-native technology company in Africa.

More Innovation hub

Flash poll

All polls

Partner perspectives

All Partner Perspectives

Africa Tech Perspectives


Women in Tech: Spotlight on inclusivity with Digital Council Africa's Juanita Clark

Digital Council Africa founder and CEO, Juanita Clark, talks to Connecting Africa as part of our Women's Month series about her career and what needs to be done to make the tech industry intentionally inclusive.


Women in Tech: Spotlight on legal tech with Life.file's Sinal Govender

Life.file co-founder, Sinal Govender, talks to Connecting Africa as part of our Women's Month series about her career and how we can encourage more young girls to enter the legal tech field.


Digital inclusion as a catalyst for economic empowerment: Mastercard's Imelda Ngunzu

Mastercard's Imelda Ngunzu talks to Connecting Africa about how digital payment solutions and mobile money are transforming the lives of small business owners, women and marginalized groups in East Africa.

More AfricaCom perspectives

Latest video

More videos

Industry announcements

More Industry announcements

Guest Perspectives


Omdia View: July 2022

By Omdia Analysts

Kenya and Zambia move towards 5G with new spectrum allocations while Tunisie Telecom plans to shut down its 3G network - that and more in this month's Omdia View.


Omdia View: June 2022

By Omdia Analysts

5G was the major news trend across Africa in June, as Orange became the first operator to launch 5G in Réunion and operators in Senegal accelerated their 5G plans despite spectrum delays.

More Guest Perspectives

Sponsored video

More videos

Like us on Facebook

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign Up