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By 13 November 2012 | Categories: news

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According to forecasts by Informa Telecoms & Media (IT&M), the number of mobile subscriptions on the African continent will surpass 750 million during Q4 2012 and go on to cross the one billion mark before the end of 2015. The market research company stated that Africa has the highest rate of growth in mobile subscriptions amongst major world regions, forecasted to increase by 17.5% year-on-year. This growth rate is higher than the world average of 10.75% for the same period.

Furthermore, Africa is also the world’s second biggest mobile market region by subscription count, right behind Asia-Pacific. And the African market can grow even further, seeing that by the end of September 2012, the mobile penetration rate in Africa was only 67.55%, marking the lowest rate among major world regions and significantly lower than the world average of 91%.

Nigeria - Africa’s biggest mobile market

IT&M forecasts that the number of mobile subscriptions in Africa will reach 761 million by the end of this year and will rise to 1.13 billion by the end of 2017.

Nigeria, which surpassed the 100 million mobile subscriptions milestone during Q2 2012, will continue to be Africa’s biggest mobile market and is projected to have 168.99 million subscriptions at the end of 2017. It is followed by Egypt, which is estimated to sport 129.4 million subscriptions by the same timeframe.

Within Africa, mobile data services are steadily increasing as a result of the rollout of 3G networks, the increasing affordability of data-enabled mobile devices and enhancements in international connectivity. The latter has been boosted by the deployment of new submarine cables connecting the continent to the rest of the world.

Mobile operators in five African countries (Angola, Mauritius, Namibia, South Africa and Tanzania) have launched LTE services in recent months, ahead of more-developed European markets. IT&M said that LTE subscription numbers (around 5 000) for the continent remain low at present, and take-up of LTE services will likely be limited to niche markets during the next few years.

“Africa’s mobile market continues to grow robustly, driven by competition among mobile operators, the availability of new data services and strong economic growth on the continent,” said Matthew Reed, principal analyst for Africa and the Middle East at Informa Telecoms & Media.

“Substantial opportunities for further growth remain, because the rate of mobile penetration in Africa is the lowest among major world regions and fixed networks are under-developed or absent across much of the continent,” he concluded.

In related news, Strategy Analytics revealed last month that there are now more than one billion smartphones in use worldwide, with the next billion smartphones to be reached by 2015.

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