By the end of 2013, there were 72 million connected smartphones in Sub-Saharan Africa and in the next six years, this number is set to reach 525 million, which will contribute to pushing data traffic up 20 times over by 2019.

This was revealed in the GSMA sub-Saharan Africa Mobile Economy report 2014 released today during the GSMA Mobile 360 Conference in Cape Town.

“The mobile industry has transformed the lives of millions of people across Sub-Saharan Africa, providing not just connectivity but also an essential gateway to a wide range of healthcare, education and financial services,” said Anne Bouverot, director general of the GSMA. “As today’s report shows, millions of additional citizens in the region will become mobile subscribers over the next six years, with many being able to access the internet for the first time via low-cost smartphones and mobile broadband networks. Operators and other ecosystem players, as well as governments and regulators, all have a role to play in ensuring that affordable mobile services can be extended across the region.”

If any of these figures sound familiar, that’s because the same predictions were made by Ericsson when it released its Mobility Report around the same time last year.

The GSMA Mobile Economy report also predicts that the continent’s unique subscriber base, which currently stood at 329 million by the end of June this year and equalling 38% of the total Sub-Saharan African population, will increase by 7% and also reach half a billion by 2020, equalling to 49% of the population.

“To fully realise the transformative potential of mobile in Sub-Saharan Africa, the mobile industry requires a supportive regulatory framework that provides long-term stability and encourages investment,” added Bouverot. “This includes the need for clear and transparent spectrum management processes, as well as tackling high levels of taxation in some markets. Addressing these issues will allow mobile to power a fresh wave of growth and innovation in this fast-developing region.”

You can read the full report in the GSMA website.

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