Africa mobile penetration rockets


Mobile penetration in Africa expected to surpass 80% in first quarter next year

The African mobile market is pulling in the punters, with almost three quarters of the population of the continent currently subscribed to a mobile phone service, and numbers still rising rapidly, said a new study.

In the third quarter this year, the 54 countries and 1.08 billion people have accumulated 821 million subscriptions, up 16.9% year on year, said ABI Research. This has resulted in a mobile subscription penetration of 76.4%.

In the first quarter of 2013, mobile penetration will eclipse 80%, predicted ABI. Given the fact that a significant percentage of prepaid users maintain more than one active prepaid subscription to minimise interconnection charges, there is still subscriber growth to be had, commented Marina Lu, research associate, ABI Research.

Lu said: 'While Western Europe languishes with barely positive overall growth quarter on quarter, Africa managed to generate 4.2% growth in the same period.'

Jake Saunders, vice president at ABI for forecasting, added: 'Subscriptions are still very much dominated by voice communications and text messaging in the form of GSM, with 62.7%. 3G subscriptions, both CDMA2000 and WCDMA, still only represent 11% of the overall African market, while 27% of the market still relies on 2.5G access technologies for mobile data access.'

Given the lack of access to credit card and banking facilities, the vast majority of subscriber's access mobile phone services through prepaid. In South Africa, prepaid ratios for the operators range from 70% to 86% but most other countries prepaid ratios stand at over 95%, if not close to 99%.

The top seven power houses of the region are: MTN Nigeria with 43.2 million subscriptions; Vodacom with 37.7 million subscriptions; Vodafone Egypt with 37.5 million subscriptions; MobiNil with 32.4 million subscriptions; MTN South Africa with 23.5 million subscriptions; Etisalat Misr with 22.9 million subscriptions; and Glo Mobile with 22.0 million subscriptions.

The mobile market in Africa is expected to grow to 1.12 billion by 2017, contributing 13.9% to take the global mobile market to 8.11 billion, added ABI.


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