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Sub-Saharan Africa to see major shift to 4G and 5G by 2030, report finds

Friday, 23 February 2024 14:31
Sub-Saharan Africa to see major shift to 4G and 5G by 2030, report finds

(Ecofin Agency) - In 2022, Sub-Saharan Africa had 980 million mobile subscriptions, with only 22% using 4G technology. By 2030, this figure is expected to leap to 66% of mobile subscribers connected to either 4G or 5G networks.

4G technology is forecasted to account for 49% of all mobile connections in SSA by 2030, up from 22% in 2022. This is a finding of the Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA), which in its "The Mobile Economy: Sub-Saharan Africa" report published in November 2023, also forecasted that 5G adoption will reach 17% by the same year.


This significant growth in 4G adoption will largely be the result of ongoing efforts to modernize and expand telecom networks, with operators in the region expected to invest $75 billion in their networks from 2023 to 2030, primarily focusing on 4G. The report also cited initiatives aimed at making 4G devices more affordable. GSMA predicts over 1.2 billion smartphones will be in use in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2030, achieving an 88% adoption rate. This growth is anticipated to spur partnerships among telecom operators, device manufacturers, and governments to manage costs and offer financing plans to customers.


GSMA's predictions are supported by Ericsson in its "Ericsson Mobility Report" published in November 2023. The Swedish tech company estimates that by 2029, 4G will represent 49% of all connections in Sub-Saharan Africa, driven by positive economic outlooks and forward-thinking regulatory measures to extend network coverage.

"4G’s prevalence is poised to redefine the way communities engage with digital services, be it for education, commerce, healthcare, or social interactions. Service providers in Sub-Saharan Africa are evolving into technology companies, integrating mobile money services into their digital portfolios. This shift not only enhances financial inclusion in society but also significantly boosts revenue for service providers, complementing traditional voice and data services," the Ericsson report states.

Telecom operators, first beneficiaries

The increase in 4G adoption in Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to benefit mobile operators by expanding their customer base. According to Ericsson, the total number of mobile subscriptions (SIM connections) in the region is set to reach 1.13 billion by 2029, up from 900 million in 2022, marking an annual growth rate of 3%.


This period will also see a rise in traffic as consumers' demand for high-speed internet connectivity grows. Ericsson predicts mobile data traffic per smartphone will jump from 5 gigabytes per month in 2022 to 23 GB/month by 2029. GSMA offers a more conservative estimate, expecting mobile data traffic per smartphone to quadruple in the region over the next five years to reach 19 GB per month, up from 4.7 GB per month in 2022.

Meeting the increasing demand for high-speed connectivity will boost telecom operators' revenues, with total telecom company revenues expected to grow from $48 billion in 2022 to $58 billion by 2030, according to GSMA.

4G boosts digital transformation efforts for governments

The wider adoption of 4G is excellent news for governments amid digital transformation efforts aimed at digitizing services such as public administration, finance, healthcare, and education. States will also benefit from the ecosystem to accelerate socio-economic development. GSMA estimates that mobile technology will contribute $210 billion to the GDP of Sub-Saharan Africa by 2030, up from $170 billion in 2022.



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ECOFIN AGENCY offers a selection of articles translated from AGENCE ECOFIN. Founded in 2011, Agence Ecofin is a leader in Francophone Pan-African economic news, particularly in West and Central Africa. The agency publishes daily news on nine African economic sectors: Public Management, Finance, ICT, Agribusiness, Energy, Mining, Transport & Logistics, Communication, and Training.

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