mobile phone

One billion African phone subscriptions milestone in sight

Cheaper components and smarter phones have helped to keep more people in contact with one another, be it through a feature phone or a smartphone. But how many phones are there is Africa?

Technology and ICT provider Ericsson knows. It says that Africa has almost a billion mobile phone subscribers – 910 million to be exact. For the first quarter of the year alone, the continent has added 21 million new subscriptions.

[Image - Ericsson]

[Image – Ericsson]

According to Ericsson’s Mobility Report, “by 2020 advanced mobile technology will be commonplace around the globe: smartphone subscriptions will more than double, reaching 6.1 billion, 70% of the world’s population will be using smartphones, and 90 percent will be covered by mobile broadband networks.”

That is a lot of mobile devices.

And reiterating the point that cheaper components have made more purchases possible, it explained that 80% of the smartphones in the market by 2020 will be from developing regions such as Asia Pacific, the Middle East, and Africa.


With more device connected to various networks, mobile data will naturally also increase. Ericsson estimates that smartphone data is set to increase ten-fold by 2020, with 80% of the data traffic stemming from smartphones.

Making a use-case for North America, the average monthly data usage per smartphone is currently at 2.4GB. That is expected to shoot up towards 14GB in the next five years.

That might not be the case for Africa, on the other hand, as many countries don’t have the capability to allow for such big demand in traffic.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, GSM/EDGE-only subscriptions will be the main way to connect until 2020, “due to the high number of lower income consumers using 2G-enabled handsets.”

But Rima Qureshi, Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer for Ericsson, says that while that may be true, everything will eventually shift towards better connections and better handsets.

“This immense growth in advanced mobile technology and data usage, driven by a surge in mobile connectivity and smartphone uptake, will makes today’s big data revolution feel like the arrival of a floppy disk. We see the potential for mass-scale transformation, bringing a wealth of opportunities for telecom operators and others to capture new revenue streams. But it also requires greater focus on cost efficient delivery and openness to new business models to compete and remain effective.”

[Image – CC by 2.0/Joseph Morris]

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