African mobile internet traffic expected to increase 20-fold by the end of the decade.
Africa’s diverse mobile market is characterised by having a small number of mobile players with footprints across multiple countries. These include Orange, Bharti Airtel, Millicom (Tigo) and MTN. There are also a large number of national providers, many of which have emerged from State-owned enterprises and in some of which the State retains a significant stake holding.
Given the poor condition of fixed-line telecom infrastructure in many markets, mobile voice forms a major component of telecom services, and has a greater share of overall voice traffic than in Europe or the Americas. This is particularly true in many semi-urban and rural areas, where mobile network operators maintain the only service available for customers. Voice traffic is growing steadily in line with the growing population base, deeper penetration of mobile services, and declining prices for call minutes in the wake of competition and regulated tariffs.
In terms of mobile penetration, the region is also diverse. Higher penetration (at above 100%) is seen in southern Africa (Namibia, Botswana, South Africa), as well as many northern countries (Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Algeria, Egypt), and a select group of others in the central region, including Senegal, Ghana and Gabon. Lower mobile penetration (at 50% or below) can be seen in a swathe of central African countries including Niger, Chad, CAR, the DRC, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Madagascar.
Africa continues to see strong growth in mobile broadband use and data traffic, the result of several factors which are providing a beneficial environment for investment and customer take-up of services. This strong growth is supported by increased international connectivity and the use Smartphones in line with the availability of LTE networks being built out by network operators. Many of these operators have an extensive international presence, encompassing a significant number of markets which facilitates the development and spread of technical expertise, m-commerce and roaming.
By 2020, about three-quarters of all mobile connections will be on 3G or LTE, and thereafter the impetus will favour LTE as operators are able to make use of spectrum released from the switch to digital TV.
Overall forecasts suggest that mobile internet traffic across the region will increase 20-fold by the end of the decade and mobile data revenue in Africa is expected to double by 2019.
Ankur Gupta, Head Marketing & Communications