(Ecofin Agency) - The telecom market in sub-Saharan Africa remained very dynamic last year attracting 20 million new subscribers and generating more than $144 million, according to the GSM Association.
This means, the number of individual subscribers increased by 4.39% peaking at 456 million, a mobile penetration rate of 44%. With such an annual mobile growth rate which is considered the highest in the world, sub-Saharan Africa is expected to reach a total of nearly 600 million subscribers by 2025.
Thanks to the 3G, the main mobile technology used in SSA in 2019, 239 million of the 456 million subscribers recorded in 2018, were Internet users. 3G made up just over 45% of the total number of Internet connection over the year.
GSMA estimates that the level of 3G use has doubled in the last two years, since the technology’s coverage broadened and cheaper terminal arrived on the market. Meanwhile, 4G has not evolved and has even declined, representing only 7% of the total number of connections. The Association says this rate is much lower than the global average of 44%, and attributes the situation to the high cost of 4G-compatible devices and the delay in the technology’s roll out in several markets. However, with the increasing development of the market, the level of 4G use is expected to reach 23% of connections by 2025.
Besides traditional tech services, the telecom market in SSA also benefited from a dynamism on other segments such as Mobile Money (MoMo). In late 2018, the sub-Saharan African market reached a record number of 395.7 million Mobile Money accounts, about half of such accounts worldwide. More than 130 MoMo operators are currently present in the region.
The overall dynamism of the voice, data and mobile money sectors generated 8.6% of sub-Saharan Africa's GDP in 2018, creating more than $144 billion in added economic value. The mobile ecosystem also accounted for nearly 3.5 million jobs (direct and indirect) and made a substantial contribution to public sector financing, with nearly $15.6 billion raised through taxes. By 2023, the value created by the mobile industry is expected to reach nearly $185 billion. That is 9.1% of sub-Saharan Africa's GDP.