Africa’s youthful population holds the key to the future of mobile in the continent, this is according to the latest edition of the GSMA’s Mobile Economy report series, published at the GSMA ‘Mobile 360 – Africa’ event recently held in Kigali.
The GSMA notes that Sub-Saharan Africa has been the world’s fastest-growing mobile region in recent years but subscriber growth is slowing as the industry faces the challenges of affordability and a youthful population.
Kenechi Okeleke, Lead Analyst, GSMA says, “The region’s current mobile penetration rate (44 per cent of the population) is significantly below the global average of 66 per cent. Further, according to the World Bank, around 40 per cent of the population in the region are under the age of 16, a demographic segment that has significantly lower levels of mobile ownership than the population as a whole.”
According to Okeleke as Africa’s youth continue to grow, so to shall the number of subscribers. GSMA’s report predicts that mobile broadband will account for 87 per cent of mobile connections in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2025, up from 38 per cent in 2017. Moreover, nearly 300 million new subscribers are expected to use their devices to access mobile internet services over the next seven years, with a large number expected to come from the youth segment.
More than half the population of Sub-Saharan Africa will be subscribed to a mobile service by 2025
The new report forecasts that there will be 634 million unique mobile subscribers across Sub-Saharan Africa by 2025, equivalent to 52 per cent of the population, up from 444 million (44 per cent) at the end of last year. The report also calculates that the mobile ecosystem will add more than $150 billion in value to Sub-Saharan Africa’s economy by 2022, equivalent to almost 8 per cent of regional GDP.
“For many citizens across the region, particularly those living in rural areas, a mobile phone is not just a communications device but also the primary channel for getting online and a vital tool for improving their lives,” commented John Giusti, Chief Regulatory Officer at the GSMA. “More needs to be done to extend connectivity to the remaining unconnected and underserved populations across Sub-Sahara Africa, but this will require a focus on long-term industry sustainability that can only be achieved through investment-friendly policies and supportive regulatory frameworks.”