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A mobile phone user in Tanzania. The introduction of mobile financial services has greatly helped the expansion in the use of cell phones on the continent / Photo: AIN

Mobile phone users in Africa to hit half a billion

Sub-Saharan Africa currently has 420 million unique mobile subscribers with a 43% penetration rate.

By 2020, this number is expected to hit over half a billion, making Africa the world’s fastest growing mobile market.

This information was released as part of the 2017 Mobile Economy report by the GSM Association (GSMA) trade organisation.

According to the data, there were 731 million SIM connections in Africa at the end of 2016. This will also rise to nearly 1 billion by 2020.

The most populated markets in Africa are the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Tanzania.

Smartphone connections have doubled in Sub-Saharan Africa over the past two years to nearly 200 million.

The report identified increasing affordability of new devices and growing market for second-hand devices as reasons for the growth of smartphones.

However, this has affected revenue growth in the region which is continuing its downward trend due to messaging services like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

Mobile penetration in Western Africa is highest in Cabo Verde, Gambia, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.

In Eastern Africa, it is highest in Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania. In Central Africa: Gabon, Congo and Sao Tome and Principe.

Finally, in Southern Africa: Seychelles, Mauritius Botswana and South Africa.

Kola Tella

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