Smartphones in Africa

By Michael Kachitsa

Sub-Saharan Africa is a large, diverse region, encompassing 37 countries ranging from South Africa and Nigeria, to Angola, Cameroon, and Mali.

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It’s a region where mobile technology is going through a major period of change, according to trade body the GSMA. More than 90 percent of the population were covered by 2G networks at the end of 2017, but more advanced networks are now beginning to take hold.

Three-quarters of the population have a SIM connection. That translates to 747 million people. However, mobile subscriber penetration is just 44 percent, well behind a global average of 66 percent. Despite this, with 444 million mobile subscribers, the region is home to nearly nine percent of all global mobile subscriptions. Around a third of mobile users, 250 million, have a smartphone.

Mobile in Sub-Saharan Africa: Can world's fastest-growing mobile ...

The number of mobile internet subscribers in Sub-Saharan Africa has quadrupled since the start of the decade. For many users it’s the only way they can get online. Mobile broadband is currently available to two-thirds of the regional population. That means 400 million people in the region cannot access mobile broadband services at present, due to a lack of coverage. Six new 4G networks launched in the first half of 2018.

There are now 120 such networks in the region. New networks and cheaper smartphones are helping drive the transition to mobile broadband. Getting online is expensive. Purchasing a handset and 500MB of data costs an average 10 percent of monthly income. At the end of 2017, there were 135 live mobile money services found in 39 countries across the region, with 122 million active accounts.

Source – ZDnet