Africa Remains Mobile’s Greatest Frontier

By all accounts, the continent of Africa remains the greatest frontier for mobile.

Without question, Africa is the world’s fastest growing mobile phone market. That’s according to a freshly published industry group report that was published Wednesday.

The report, which comes to us by way of GSMA (Groupe Speciale Mobile Association), says mobile penetration in Africa has reached 649 million connections. That number is second only to Asia and rapidly ballooning.

Based on the research and corresponding data presented, the number of subscribers across Africa has grown by almost 20 percent on an annual basis for the last five years.

By the close of 2012, the number of mobile users in Africa is expected to top 738 million.

Although mobile banking and financial services are among the chief mobile services African mobile users enjoy, the diversity of uses is growing just as quickly as the mobile population in that part of the world.

“Gertrude Kitongo also uses her phone as a radio, library, mini cinema, instant messenger and bank teller,” the AP reports in one example of a typical mobile user’s experience in Africa.

“I use my phone for everything,” said 24-year-old Kenyan-Ugandan, who says she “cherishes the link to family and friends — from her grandmother in a Ugandan village to her former schoolmates in Zimbabwe.”

Peter Lyons, a GSMA policy expert, said that there will be more “mobile savvy citizens” like Kitongo in Africa who will demand better coverage and affordable service.

Lyons believes that at least 5.5 million Africans are already directly or indirectly employed by the mobile industry.