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MWC Kigali: GSMA's Mats Granryd on Africa's mobile economy

GSMA Director General Mats Granryd sat down with Connecting Africa Editor Paula Gilbert on the sidelines of MWC Kigali 2023 in Rwanda to talk about the growth of Africa's mobile economy and the major trends making waves in the industry.

He spoke about the key stats coming out of the GSMA's Mobile Economy Sub-Saharan Africa Report for 2023 which revealed that operators in the region will spend US$75 billion on their networks during 20232030, mostly on 4G.

"Today there are over 480 million mobile subscribers in [sub-Saharan] Africa and we believe that will grow to 700 million by 2030, so, substantial growth of the number but also the usage per individual will grow quite dramatically," he said.

He discussed the reasons behind Africa's mobile Internet usage gap of 59%, which is people who are covered by a mobile broadband network but who are still not using the mobile Internet.

The barriers include affordability of smartphones and high taxation on devices, a lack of digital education and relevant content in local languages as well as safety concerns.

He also spoke about 4G growth in Africa and the growing potential of 5G.

"4G is growing and I think globally it's still growing, maybe this year is the tipping point globally, in Africa it is certainly growing. On 5G we just passed 1 billion 5G subscribers [globally] at the beginning of this year and we will have 1.5 billion at least by the end of 2023, so it is definitely taking off," he said adding that he sees 5G as a service predominately for business-to-business use cases.

The GSMA expects 5G to benefit the sub-Saharan Africa economy by US$11 billion in 2030, accounting for more than 6% of the overall economic impact of mobile.

He also gave his view on how generative artificial intelligence will impact the telecoms industry and what needs to be done to minimize the mobile gender gap and get more African women online.

— Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa

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