Mobile subscribers in Sub-Saharan Africa will increase from 456 million by the end of 2018 to over 600 million by 2025, representing around half the population in the region, said a report released here by the Global System for Mobile Communications Alliance (GSMA) on Tuesday.
Sub-Saharan Africa will remain the fastest growing region of mobile subscribers with the average annual growth rate of 4.6 percent over the period to 2025, said the report released at the opening session of the three-day GSMA Mobile 360 Africa conference in Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda.
Nigeria and Ethiopia will record the fastest growth rates between now and 2025, at 19 percent and 11 percent respectively, said the report, adding that the demographic bulge across the region will result in large numbers of young consumers becoming adults and owning a mobile phone for the first time, who will account for the majority of new mobile subscribers and will "significantly" influence mobile usage patterns in the future.
The report indicated 3G will overtake 2G to become the leading mobile technology in Sub-Saharan Africa during 2019, following doubled 3G adoption over the last two years as a result of network coverage expansion and cheaper devices.
The report also said Sub-Saharan Africa lags other regions in 4G adoption, as it accounted for 7 percent of total connections in the region by the end of 2018 compared to the global average of 44 percent.
The high cost of 4G-enabled devices and delays in assigning 4G spectrum to established service providers in some markets have been among the factors holding back 4G uptake, it said.
The report, however, said the 4G adoption is beginning to change with new 4G spectrum assignments in several countries over the last 12 months and a marked increase in network deployment. Seven LTE networks have been launched in the region since the start of 2019, it added.
It predicted 4G adoption in the region will overtake 2G in 2023 and rise to 23 percent of connections by 2025.
Mobile technologies and services generated 8.6 percent of GDP in Sub-Saharan Africa, according to the report.