The contribution of mobile revenues to GDP is higher in sub-Saharan Africa than any comparable region globally, the GSM Association (GSMA) claims.
In its latest report on the socio-economic impact of the mobile industry on the territory, the GSMA reveals it contributes at least 6% of GDP, supports 3.3 million jobs, and provided $21 billion (€15.6 billion) in public funding, including license fees. The Association also states the subscriber base has grown 18% per year over the last five years, to 253 million unique users, and 502 million connections.
While the bulk of those connections are 2G, Tom Phillips, chief regulatory officer at the GSMA, says the region is “starting to see an explosion in the uptake of mobile data,” as smartphone ownership increases, and the first 3G and 4G networks are deployed. Despite the demand for data, Phillips predicts voice services will still grow in the years ahead –the unique user penetration rate for the region is 33%.
Phillips notes there are risks to the region’s growth. “[A] short-term focus by some countries on generating high spectrum fees and maximizing tax revenue risks constraining the potential of the mobile Internet,” he warns. The Association’s report also highlights the need for stable and supportive regulatory and tax policies, and spectrum management and harmonization as key to ensuring the industry’s growth.