The Mobile Economy sub-Saharan Africa report 2022, released by the Global System for Mobile telecommunications Association (GSMA), has revealed that in 2021, mobile technologies and services in Nigeria and other sub-Saharan (SSA) Africa countries generated around eight per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), a contribution that amounted to almost US$140 billion of economic value added in 2021.
According to the report, the mobile ecosystem also supported more than 3.2 million jobs (directly and indirectly) and made a substantial contribution to the funding of the public sector, with US$16 billion raised through taxes on the industry.
The report disclosed that by 2025, mobile services contribution will increase by US$65 billion as the countries in the region increasingly benefit from the improvements in productivity and efficiency brought about by the increased take-up of mobile services.
GSMA reported that at the end of 2021, 515 million people subscribed to mobile services in SSA, representing 46 per cent of the population – an increase of almost 20 million in 2020. In addition, it noted that there would be nearly 100 million new subscribers by 2025, taking the total number of subscribers to 613 million.
According to the telecoms advocacy body, the two most populated countries – Nigeria and Ethiopia – will account for almost a third of new subscribers in 2025.
It noted that SSA’s demography, with a sizable proportion of the population under the age of 18, means that subscriber growth will remain vital for the foreseeable future as young consumers move into adulthood and can subscribe to mobile services.
According to GSMA, young subscribers are more likely to be tech-savvy and keen on adopting mobile Internet services, particularly more advanced 4G and, where available, 5G services.
GSMA stated that 5G-related activities are beginning to pick up across the region. These include 5G spectrum auctions, 5G pilots and commercial trials, and efforts to develop locally relevant 5G use cases.
For example, in May 2022, South Africa’s ICASA completed the spectrum auction for frequencies in the 700, 800, 2600 and 3500 MHz bands; MTN Nigeria launched a commercial pilot for its 5G network in August 2022, and Vodacom launched a commercial 5G network in September 2022.
The telecoms body said though 3G will remain the dominant connectivity technology in SSA, accounting for over half of total connections by 2025, 2022 marks a turning point as 3G adoption begins to decline for the first time. This reflects the growing shift towards 4G as operators take steps to migrate customers from legacy networks (2G and 3G). As a result, by 2025, 4G will account for a third of mobile connections in the region, compared to under a fifth of connections in 2021.