African mobile subscriptions - one billion by 2016

Africa, Mobile subscriptions, SIM card, 1 billion, 2016, Informa, asia-pacific, telecoms, media, EgyptAfrica has become the second most connected region in the world in terms of mobile subscription countAfrica is world’s second most connected region by mobile subscriptions despite being young market

Africa has become the second most connected region in the world in terms of mobile subscription count, up from fourth place at end of 2010, according to new research by Informa Telecoms & Media. There were over 616mn mobile subscriptions in Africa at the end of September, which means that the mobile market on the continent is second only to Asia-Pacific in terms of mobile subscription numbers.

Africa’s mobile-subscription count overtook that of Western Europe during 2Q11 and then overtook the Americas in 3Q11. At end-2010, less than a year ago, Africa was only the fourth largest regional mobile market by subscriptions, coming after Asia-Pacific, Western Europe and the Americas.

Population growth

“The combination in Africa of a still relatively immature telecoms market with factors including population growth, strong competition among providers and the increasing affordability of mobile devices, explains Africa’s move up the regional mobile-market rankings as well as its strong growth forecast,” said Matthew Reed, head of mobile research for the Middle East and Africa at Informa Telecoms & Media. “Africa’s mobile market is heading towards a major landmark: the number of mobile subscriptions on the continent will cross the one billion mark in 2016 according to our latest forecast.”

Africa will retain its position as the second biggest regional mobile market by subscriptions, according to Informa’s forecasts for the coming five years. However, there is a strong trend for Africa mobile subscribers to have multiple SIM cards and consequently the number of unique users of mobile services on the continent is smaller than the number of subscriptions. The number of unique users in Africa at end-2016 is forecasted to be 572.35mn.

Nigeria will continue to be Africa’s biggest mobile market by subscriptions, with a forecasted 152.09mn subscriptions at end-2016. Egypt will hold onto its position as Africa’s second-biggest mobile market, with a forecasted 118.03mn subscriptions at end-2016. South Africa, the continent’s third largest mobile market, will have 80.56mn mobile subscriptions at end-2016.


3G subscriptions to grow

Africa is forecasted to have a mobile penetration rate of 86.92 per cent at end-2016, still lower than in other regions.

3G (WCDMA) subscriptions and market share in Africa will grow strongly over the coming years. The mobile-market-share held by WCDMA is forecasted to rise from 6.6 per cent at end-2011 to 46 per cent at end-2016, almost equalling GSM’s market-share of 47.5 per cent at end-2016.

As the African market matures, the retention of existing customers is becoming increasingly important. A recent survey by Informa Telecoms & Media into the views of African operators on customer loyalty found that 21.8 per cent of respondents ranked customer retention as their main priority while 18.2 per cent said it was customer acquisition, and 60 per cent said that customer retention and customer acquisition were equally important.

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