9 graphs that will give you new insight into Africa’s thriving mobile landscape

mobile phone

We love graphs. They are colourful, digestible and usually provide interesting, insightful data. Below are a couple of charts provided by GSMA’s latest report The Mobile Economy that we thought you’d be interested in.

We all know by now that mobile is a big deal in Africa. While it’s great that the continent is one of the most penetrated regions in the world, it’s even more interesting looking at how this technology effects people, from boosting GDPs to creating jobs and innovations.

Read more: Sub-Saharan Africa will have half a billion mobile subscribers by 2020

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2G connections accounted for 85% of the total connections at the end of 2013, 3G networks accounts for 15%. 4G (or LTE) still has a long way to go, regionally.

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The chart below shows the unique mobile subscriber penetration per country in 2014. As you can see, the top countries are Reunion, Botswana, Mauritius, Gabon, Mayotte, Seychelles, with South Africa sitting at number seven.

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By 2020, half of the continent’s mobiles will be smartphones. That’s a staggering number and is mainly due to low-cost phones, with the sub-US$50 price point gaining increasing traction.

Read more: MTN’s $50 Steppa smartphone changes (almost) everything

This is what the smartphone landscape looks like:

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Online messaging services like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Mxit are the main suspects. For instance, in Zimbabwe, WhatsApp usage now accounts for nearly a quarter of entire mobile data traffic on Econet Wireless’s network as of May 2014. Here is what these services are doing to SMS:

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“Mobile internet access can create a virtuous cycle in developing countries,” notes the report. People get access to communication and basic services like education and banking, to name a few. The chart below is what Africa’s internet penetration looks like on a global scale:

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Read more: 16 graphs that shed new light on the South African smartphone space

This massive mobile subscriber base and data usage have contributed greatly to the region’s economy, totaling 5.4% GDP in 2013. This includes a direct contribution from mobile network operators of US$27-billion, content creators which contribute US$8-billion, knock-on effect of US$7-billion as well as an increase in productivity which is an estimated US$33-billion.

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This number is just set to grow. By 2020, it is estimated that the mobile ecosystem will contribute US$104-billion to the region’s economy, representing at that point 6.2% of the region’s projected GDP in 2020.

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As one can expect, the contribution to job creation is also huge. In 2013, the mobile industry provided direct employment to 2.4-million people in the region. This includes all mobile-related services.

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Image by 月明 端木 via Flickr.



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