African mobile usage growing while broadband penetration struggles, says report

getty2The report has projected a growth in both mobile and broadband customer base by 2017. (Image source: gettyimages)Research conducted by Frost & Sullivan has revealed that mobile phone usage was growing steadily across Africa, while Internet broadband penetration remained "significantly" low across the continent

According to the research, a majority of countries in the continent has recorded broadband penetration levels as low as five per cent.

“African countries, however, have experienced a steady uptake of mobile communications and were poised to witness an appreciable growth of mobile, broadband and Internet services over the next four or five years,” it said.

Frost & Sullivan's Sub-Saharan African Communications Quantitative Quarterly Tracker Q3 2012 report found that the market had 181.7mn mobile and fixed-line subscribers and 29.8mn Internet subscribers in 2010.

The report projected a further growth in the figures with an estimated 266.1mn mobile and fixed-line subscribers and 77.5mn Internet subscribers by 2017 due to expansion in demand and uptake of mobile voice and Internet services.

Chantel Lindeman, Frost & Sullivan’s information and communication technologies business unit leader for Africa, said, “The growth of voice and Internet markets in Africa is expected to be driven by a decline in retail price for these services.

“Operators in the region are investing significantly in mobile infrastructure, including base stations and transmission networks.

“This is expected to result in the availability of higher network capacity at lower cost, with operators spurring growth by passing savings in network costs to the end users of services,” Lindeman added. 

The report further revealed that operators were investing in shared terrestrial fibre optic infrastructure to increase transmission capacities and connect end users to undersea cables.

They were also adopting infrastructure sharing at base stations to minimise the overall cost of delivering services to end users, it added.

The report claimed that for facilitating wider uptake of mobile voice and Internet services, African operators were likely to analyse models utilised in developing markets in the region.

Lindeman said, “Operators should learn from experiences in the uptake of mobile telephony services in African countries, such as Kenya, that have experienced notable penetration levels.

“They should engage governments to offer tax subsidies on mobile phones, laptops and smartphones that are required to access internet services. In addition, operators can extend their range of internet access packages to meet the budget capabilities of more consumers.”

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