Recent studies have revealed that there are almost half a billion mobile services subscribers across Africa. Even though that number sounds huge, it only represents 45% mobile penetration in the continent. These mobile users use their devices to access various internet apps like social media apps Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. There is also an increased number of sports punters using mobile betting apps like the Betway betting App to wager on their favorite sports. Other industry experts are projecting an annual growth rate of 4.3% through 2025.
However, GSMA reports that the total connections stood at 850 million in 2020, and the number is expected to hit the 1 billion mark by 2024. Sub – Saharan Africa is projected to have over 130 million new mobile subscribers by 2025. According to reports, nearly half of these subscribers will come from Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, DRC, and Ethiopia.
For mobile internet usage, the studies suggest that there are around 272 million Africans connected to the internet through their mobile phones. This number represents only 26% of the continent’s population. Nevertheless, the continent’s mobile usage shows that about 49% of the African population are still not connected to mobile internet despite being in areas having a mobile broadband network.
The studies also suggest that some of the significant barriers to mobile internet adoption include high costs of smartphones compared to low-income levels among the people. Also, there are limited digital skills and literacy levels in the continent’s rural areas, which also impedes the internet’s adoption.
However, the availability of more affordable smartphones is changing the narrative. Smartphone adoption is gradually rising as more people can now afford the gadgets. It is this development that has led to projections of an adoption rate of 65% by 2025.
There are also other trends in the smartphone market that have increased their affordability. For example, the partnership between Safaricom and Google, which allows low-income individuals to pay for 4G smartphones with daily installments, has also boosted smartphones’ availability. The availability of smartphones also impacts other sectors like the sports betting industry, where operators like Betway get the chance to explore untapped markets.
GSMA reported that mobile service providers in Sub-Saharan Africa remained resilient to the pandemic pressures in 2020. The report also suggests that the region operators are expected to pump 52 billion USD in infrastructural rollouts running from 2019 to 2025.
The studies further reveal that the mobile industry in the region managed to keep businesses and individuals connected throughout the pandemic period despite changes in data consumption patterns.
The 5G Puzzle
The African continent still faces the 5G puzzle. There is slow uptake of the 5G technology with South Africa through Vodacom and MTN at the forefront of the launch. According to GSMA, there will be around 30 million 5G connection in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2025.
This is just 3% of the mobile connection in the region. There have been 5G trials in other parts of Sub-Saharan Africa like Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, and Gabon. However, the report suggests that there is still a long way to go in 5G adoption.
The future of the mobile industry in the continent depends on several factors. However, as per the findings in this article, it will take cooperation between the governments and mobile service providers to take the industry to the next level. The sector’s growth will also affect other sectors like eCommerce and sports betting, where companies will benefit from mobile internet adoption. But, as things stand, the future looks bright.