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.

Digital Inclusion

Sub-Saharan Mobile Economy Worth $110B GSMA

Article Image
Mobile technologies and services generated US$110 billion of economic value in sub-Saharan Africa in 2016, the equivalent of 7.7% of the region's GDP*, according to a new report from the GSM Association (GSMA).

And, perhaps not surprisingly, the GSMA expects that figure to grow to $142 billion, or 8.8% of GDP, by 2020, it noted in the report, "The Mobile Economy: Sub-Saharan Africa 2017."

In addition, the "mobile ecosystem also directly and indirectly supported approximately 3.5 million jobs in the region [in 2016], and made a $13 billion contribution to the public sector in the form of taxation," according to the GSMA.

That economic activity comes after years of investment in the region's mobile networks: The GSMA estimates that mobile operators have invested $37 billion in their network systems during the past five years, with much of that investment focused on the deployment of new 3G and 4G infrastructure.

The Association estimates that about a third of mobile connections in sub-Saharan Africa were on 3G or 4G networks at the end of 2016, with that proportion set to rise to about 60% by 2020. "These new networks -- alongside rising smartphone adoption -- are driving demand for digital content and services," notes the GSMA in a press release about the report.

"As Sub-Saharan Africa transitions to higher levels of mobile engagement, underpinned by growing access to mobile data services and smart devices, we are seeing a flourishing mobile ecosystem emerge, supported by growing investments by operators and others in mobile-focused start-ups and tech hubs," noted Mats Granryd, director general of the GSMA. "Building this digital society requires collaboration between governments and the mobile industry to develop the policies and programmes that create the right incentives for innovation and an enabling environment for extending connectivity to all," he added.

The GSMA also estimates that the number of unique mobile subscribers (an individual who can account for multiple SIM connections) in sub-Saharan Africa will grow from 420 million (43% of the region's population) at the end of 2016 to 535 million (50% of the population) in 2020, growth that would make it the fastest-growing region in the world over this period.

"Sub-Saharan Africa will be a key engine of subscriber growth for the world's mobile industry over the next few years as we connect millions of previously unconnected men, women and young people across the continent," noted Granryd. "Mobile is also offering sustainable solutions that address the lack of access to services such as health, education, electricity, clean water and financial services, which still affect large swathes of the population," he added.

Much of that subscriber growth is expected to take place in "large, underpenetrated markets such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Nigeria and Tanzania," said the GSMA, "which together will account for half of the 115 million new subscribers expected in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2020." It added that the growth will focus on "currently under-represented segments such as the under-16 age group, which accounts for more than 40% of the population in many countries, and women, who are currently 17% less likely to have a mobile phone subscription than their male counterparts."

According to the report's findings, mobile connectivity is playing a key role in "delivering digital and financial inclusion" in the region, with around 270 million people accessing the Internet through mobile devices, while 280 million people are registered for mobile money services.

*GDP contribution includes: direct ecosystem contribution (2.6%); indirect contribution (0.7%); and productivity improvements (4.3%).

The staff, Connecting Africa

Innovation hub

Story

AI's impact on African telcos

Many African telecommunications companies are turning to artificial intelligence as a differentiator to improve their mobile networks and enhance customer service and experience as they transition from traditional telco offerings into new tech-first verticals.

Story

Four AI trends to look out for in 2024

Connecting Africa has compiled a list of four artificial intelligence (AI) trends to look out for on the African continent in 2024.

More Innovation hub

Latest video

More videos

Upcoming events

AfreGov 2024
March 12-14, 2024
Kigali, Rwanda
Africa Tech Festival 2024
November 11-14, 2024
Cape Town, South Africa
More Upcoming events

Sponsored video

More videos

Industry announcements

More Industry announcements

Africa Tech Perspectives

Story

Uber's Marjorie Saint-Lot on inclusion and sustainability in Africa

Uber's Country Manager for Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire, Marjorie Saint-Lot, shares how the ride-hailing company is approaching public-private partnerships, environmentally friendly initiatives and gender inclusion in Africa.

Story

The 100 most influential African leaders in 2023

A new report from Africa Tech Festival and Connecting Africa puts a spotlight on the top 100 African leaders in the telecoms and technology sector in 2023.

Story

Deep dive into East Africa's tech startup ecosystem

New survey reveals a lack of access to investors, reliance on international VCs and global recession trends as the biggest barriers for East African tech startups to access funds.

More Africa Tech perspectives

Partner perspectives

All Partner Perspectives

Guest Perspectives

Story

Omdia View: January 2024

By Omdia Analysts

Highlights in January 2024 in the Middle East and Africa included a $200 million fintech deal between MTN and Mastercard as well as 5G network trials by Telecom Egypt – that and more in this month's Omdia View.

Story

Omdia View: September 2023

By Omdia Analysts

Highlights in September 2023 in the Middle East and Africa included more 5G spectrum licenses, vendor and operator strategies, and partnerships – that and more in this month's Omdia View.

More Guest Perspectives

Like us on Facebook

Newsletter Sign Up


Sign Up
Tag id test-002