Ovum: Africa to have 1B mobile broadband subscribers by 2020

The number of mobile broadband connections in Africa is expected to reach 1 billion in 2020, up from 147 million in 2014 and 222.34 million at the end of 2015.

According to new forecasts by Ovum, mobile data revenues in Africa are also expected to grow at a CAGR of 18.2 per cent between 2014 and 2020, reaching $25.8 billion (€24 billion) by the end of 2020.

The research and analyst firm said growth of mobile broadband services would be driven by factors including the ongoing rollout of 3G and 4G networks across the continent and the increasing affordability of smartphones and other data devices.

While the rate of overall mobile growth on the continent is slowing, with mobile subscription numbers up by 10 per cent during 2014 compared to a 15.3 per cent year-on-year gain in 2012, the number of mobile broadband subscriptions is increasing strongly, with growth rates of more than 50 per cent annually in each of the past few years.

As a result, mobile broadband will account for an increasingly substantial share of the overall mobile market in Africa. Mobile broadband accounted for just 17 per cent of the 884 million total mobile subscriptions in Africa at the end of 2014, but is expected to account for 76 per cent of the total of 1.32 billion mobile subscriptions in Africa at end-2020. The number of total mobile subscriptions in Africa is expected to cross the 1 billion mark during 2016.

"Although the pace of growth in overall connection numbers in Africa has slowed and the regional industry is facing some headwinds from rising competition and weaker economic conditions, there are substantial growth opportunities on the continent in data connectivity as well as in digital services that are based on those data connections," said Matthew Reed, practice leader for Middle East & Africa at Ovum.

Nigeria has the largest mobile market on the continent in terms of subscriptions, with 139.3 million subscriptions at the end of 2014. MTN Nigeria is the largest single mobile operator in Africa in terms of subscriptions, with 62.8 million at the end of the second quarter of this year.

After Nigeria, the African countries with the next-biggest mobile markets are Egypt, South Africa, Algeria and Morocco.

For more:
- see the Ovum report

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