Analysys Mason: Mobile comms will dominate in sub-Saharan Africa through 2018

Mobile services are tipped to remain the dominant revenue generator in sub-Saharan Africa in the five years through 2018, fuelled by high demand for wireless voice and data communications.

Research company Analysys Mason said sub-Saharan Africa is the world's fastest-growing telecoms market and predicted that total revenues will rise from $49 billion (€37 billion) in 2013 to $65 billion in 2018. Mobile revenues generated 86.5 per cent of the region's total telecoms revenue in 2013 and will account for 89.4 per cent of revenues in 2018, as consumers increase their use of mobile voice and data services.

Analysys Mason analysts said mobile revenue growth will be fuelled by increased coverage and capacity of 3G networks, and the widespread introduction of low-cost smartphones. The company predicts that smartphone penetration will grow from 12 per cent of all handsets in 2013 to 26 per cent of the total in 2018.

The impact of higher-speed mobile broadband networks, however, will be more muted. The company projects the proportion of 3G connections from non machine-to-machine connections will hit 23 per cent in 2018. LTE (4G) connections will account for 3.3 per cent of the total in 2018, according to the company's forecasts.

Mobile communications remains a growth market in most sub-Saharan Africa countries, with penetration below 80 per cent in all countries except Ghana and South Africa. Analysys Mason predicts mobile voice will remain the largest element in the region's broader telecoms market through 2018, fuelled by increases in subscriber numbers, new market entrants, and cuts to mobile termination rates.

Although mobile voice will remain the largest form of communication, Analysys Mason predicts mobile data revenues will grow at a CAGR of 19.6 per cent over the five year period compared to 4.7 per cent for voice. The company also noted that demand for mobile internet services is being fuelled by the growing range of services on offer, with financial services cited as a notable example.

Mpho Moyo, Analysys Mason's regional analyst, said sub-Saharan Africa's telecoms market "is growing faster than that of any other region, and will increase its share of worldwide telecoms revenue over the next 5 years." Despite the growth, Moyo notes the region's share of the global total will "still remain small compared with other regions."

Alexandra Rehak, co-author of a report on sub-Saharan African telecoms with Moyo, added that "affordability, coverage and effective regulatory and market structures remain major challenges for successful telecoms development in Africa."

For more:
- read this Analysys Mason release

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