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By 30 November 2012 | Categories: news

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There is no question that Africa is a hotbed of mobile growth activity, with recent data revealing that the continent will surpass the one billion mark in mobile subscriptions before the end of 2015. Now, the latest research from data analytics company ABI Research has shown that the African cellular market will move past the 80% cellular penetration milestone during Q1 2013.

ABI Research stated that during Q3 2012, the 1.08 billion people living within the 54 countries on the African continent accumulated 821 million mobile subscriptions. This is an increase of 16.9% year-on-year, and culminates in a cellular subscription penetration rate of 76.4%.

The firm asserts that there is still plenty of room for growth, since a large proportion of prepaid users utilise more than one active prepaid subscription, in order to lessen the blow of interconnection charges. Within Africa, the cellular market is expected to increase to 1.12 billion subscriptions by 2017, representing 13.9% of the global cellular market figure of 8.11 billion for that period.

Most subscribers are on prepaid

In addition, ABI Research said that due to a lack of access to credit card and banking facilities, the vast majority of African cellular subscribers are on prepaid.

Within South Africa, prepaid ratios for the mobile operators ranges between 70% and 86%. For most other African countries the prepaid ratios are over 95%, and a lot of the time close to 99%.

In terms of subscribers, the Top 7 operator power houses of the region are:
    • MTN Nigeria at 43.2 million subscriptions.
    • Vodacom at 37.7 million subscriptions.
    • Vodafone Egypt at 37.5 million subscriptions.
    • MobiNil at 32.4 million subscriptions.
    • MTN South Africa at 23.5 million subscriptions.
    • Etisalat Misr at 22.9 million subscriptions.
    • Glo Mobile at 22 million subscriptions.
“While Western Europe languishes with barely positive overall growth quarter-on-quarter, Africa managed to generate 4.2% growth in the same period,” commented Marina Lu, research associate at ABI Research.

Jake Saunders, VP of Forecasting at ABI Research added: “Subscriptions are still very much dominated by voice communications and text messaging in the form of GSM, with 62.7%. 3G subscriptions — both CDMA2000 and WCDMA — still only represent 11% of the overall African market, while 27% of the market still relies on 2.5G access technologies for mobile data access.”

In related news, the GSMA recently revealed that sub-Saharan Africa is the fastest-growing mobile market in the world, with a prodigious average annual growth rate of 44% since 2000. 

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