The Mobile Observatory series includes reports on the large and mature European market, the extensive and dynamically evolving market of the Asia-Pacific region and the fast growing Latin-American region. This is the first African edition in the GSMA Mobile Observatory series. This Observatory provides a comprehensive review of the African mobile communications industry. Included are the latest statistics and market developments, as a reference point for mobile industry participants, policy makers and other interested stakeholders. It covers the state of the industry, including the evolution of competition, innovation in new products, services and technologies and the industry’s contribution to social and economic development in Africa. The report integrates data from a wide range of existing sources to provide a comprehensive picture of the African mobile industry. These include public sources such as the ITU, World Bank and research by National Regulatory Authorities as well as commercial providers such as Wireless Intelligence, Informa, Gartner, Buddecomm and IDC.
The mobile industry in Africa is booming. With over 620 million mobile connections as of September 2011, Africa has overtaken Latin America to become the second largest mobile market in the world, after Asia. Over the past 10 years, the number of mobile connections in Africa has grown an average of 30% per year and is forecast to reach 735 million by the end of 2012. 3 Fierce competition has driven down prices and increased penetration. Price wars have been common across the continent as operators compete for market share with innovative revenue and pricing options – operators have reduced prices an average of 18% between 2010 and 2011, 4 making mobile connectivity more broadly affordable to the masses. 96% of subscriptions are pre-paid with voice services currently dominating, however the uptake of data services is increasing rapidly. For example in Kenya data revenues, including SMS, have increased at a remarkable 67% CAGR over the last 4 years and now represent 26% of total revenues.
For the mobile industry to continue to serve as a catalyst for growth, sufficient spectrum is needed for the provision of mobile broadband services. African countries have currently allocated considerably less spectrum to mobile services than developing countries in Europe, the Americas and Asia. Allocating the Digital Dividend spectrum to mobile services will enable the mobile industry to accelerate its efforts to bring connectivity and information to large swathes of rural Africa.