Africa ranks second mobile continent in the world

With more than a half of billion people being subscribed to mobile network, Africa ranks second continent in the world, providing not just a connectivity but range of essential services in areas such as digital identity, healthcare and financial services. (EDO)

Edouard Tripkovic Katayama

Edouard Tripkovic Katayama Advisory Consultant

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Africa counts 1.2 billion inhabitants. GDP per capita is US$ 1,871 (2016). Comparing to Japan’s US$35,000 it is not so high but some countries as Equatorial Guinea or Seychelles already topped US$10,000. African annual GDP is expected to reach 6% from 2013 to 2023 period and nowadays attracts the biggest attention.

With more than a half of billion people being subscribed to mobile network, Africa ranks second continent in the world. 557 million unique mobile subscribers in 2015, equivalent to 46% of population, is a +70% compare with 327 million in 2010. Leading countries Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa account together for a third of total subscribers. As Africa is still the least penetrated mobile market in the world with Sub-Saharan Africa counting only 6% internet users, important increase is expected forecasting by 2020 with more than 725 million subscribers, accounting for 54% of population by that time.

Interesting to notice, electricity, drinkable water, roads and other commonly called ‘classic’ infrastructure is developing slower while mobile sees important increase in short term and forecasts announce further fast development. Talking about phone types, valued mostly by long life battery, big majority of African users opt for feature phones than smartphones.

Second biggest continent with almost quarter of counties on Earth, have clear gap between advanced and less advanced countries. More than 280 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa are farmers and mobile phones arrival improved a lot their lives. Products distribution through mobile phones and internet, compare with time they were just waiting clients, allowed better stock management and more efficient production decreased throwing away quantity. Insufficient bank ATM number created need for smooth online payments account system. GSMA source says, in 2015, Africa represents 52% of active mobile money accounts from 93 countries worldwide.

Not only farmers have benefit. Healthcare is also improving through internet, allowing better education for nurses with eLearning, especially in rural areas. Application of systems reduces administrative tasks, freeing up significant costs to be relocated to direct health care.

Internet and mobile phones development have a key role in African poverty eradication, agriculture, health, education, gender equality, water resource management and sanitation, employment, infrastructure, safer cities and climate changes. It is predictable relations between Japan and Japanese regions with Africa will increase from now on. When it happen, instead of smartphones applications, it might be better considering use of internet sites accessible to feature phones, a particularity of African market.

Source: GSMA, World Economic Forum, Pew Research Center, Ericsson, Daliberg