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‘Africa’s mobile market to almost quadruple by 2020’

According to an article published on IT Web AFRICA, Africa’s booming mobile phone market is forecast to almost quadruple in size from a value of $60 billion in 2013 to $234 billion by 2020, say researchers.

US based research firm Manifest Mind LLC forecasts that the African mobile market is to grow at an annual rate of 21.27% from 2013 to 2020 to reach the above-mentioned target.

Africa’s telecoms sector growth has surged in the last ten years as the continent has overtaken Europe and Latin America to become the second biggest market in the world for handsets after Asia, according to global mobile phone body, the GSMA. Figures from the GSMA also indicate that from 2007 to 2012 mobile connections in Africa more than doubled from 283 million to 735 million.

In 2005, the number of mobile connections in Africa amounted to just 15% of the continent’s total population, according to the GSMA. But by 2012, this percentage had jumped to 72% of Africa’s estimated one billion population. However, Manifest says that despite Africa’s seemingly growing mobile phone usage rates, there could be significant scope for further take-up of handsets on the continent. “Although Africa boasts a number of fast-growing economies, many inhabitants still live below globally recognised poverty lines. As such, mobile users in Africa are highly sensitive to costs and have adopted mobile phone–usage strategies to minimise these costs,” says Manifest. “These strategies include the use of multiple subscriber identification module (SIM) cards in their phones and the extensive sharing of phones between users or families. Given this use of multiple SIM cards, Manifest Mind estimates that mobile phone penetration rates for unique subscribers are well below other popular market estimates. “This exposes a mobile telecommunications market of more than 700 million people who have yet to own their own phone,” Manifest explains.

Mobile network operators are to be the largest beneficiaries of the growth during the forecast period, followed by mobile distributors and retailers, says Manifest. Manifest goes on to say that application developers and content providers are also predicted to benefit during the period. However, demand for smartphones could also rise significantly during the forecast period, says Manifest. Manifest says that mobile network operators are upgrading their infrastructures to handle 3G and 4G long-term evolution (LTE) bandwidths from the current predominant 2G services.


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