Africa is quickly growing into a mobile powerhouse, with a new estimate pegging total mobile subscribers at over a half a billion. This represents over 10% of all mobile subscribers worldwide.
Mobile connections provide vital services throughout Africa, for things like reminders to take medication, mobile banking opportunities and overall communication. Despite a horrible infrastructure that forces operators to run their cellular networks with diesel powered generators, mobile phones are provided very cheaply to ensure nearly everyone can afford one. Companies like Nokia and Vodafone offer handsets for as low as $20 and under.
“By 2015, there will be 265 million mobile broadband subscriptions in Africa, a huge increase from the current figure of about 12 million, and accounting for 31.5% of the total of 842 million mobile subscriptions that the continent will have in five years’ time,” according to forecasts by Informa Telecoms & Media. “There will be almost 360 million users of mobile-money services on the continent by 2014.”
The opportunities provided by such a burgeoning mobile market are more than apparent, and service providers are taking note. “Although the rate of growth in mobile subscriptions in Africa will slow as markets mature, the continent continues to offer great opportunities for investors in the voice segment in under-penetrated markets and also in the non-voice segments with mobile broadband and mobile-money services taking off,” says Thecla Mbongue, Johannesburg based Senior Analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media.