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Sub-Saharan Africa has highest mobile subs growth rate

Rapid growth in data traffic is driving operators to explore methods of optimising network capacity, says Ericsson's Jean-Claude Geha.

Rapid growth in data traffic is driving operators to explore methods of optimising network capacity, says Ericsson's Jean-Claude Geha.

Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest growth rate of mobile subscriptions of any region on the globe.

This is according to Ericsson's Sub-Saharan Africa Mobility Report, which was unpacked at the AfricaCom 2016 conference in Cape Town today.

This year, Ericsson has published five regional reports as part of its Global Mobility Report. The Sub-Saharan Africa Mobility Report reveals that while total mobile subscriptions penetration in the region is currently 85%, this number is expected to reach 105% by 2022 − with over a billion mobile subscriptions.

Ericsson says mobile data traffic continues to grow, driven both by increased smartphone subscriptions and a continued increase in average data volume per subscription, fuelled primarily by more viewing of video content. In the third quarter of 2016, global data traffic grew around 10% quarter-on-quarter and 50% year-on-year.

A rise in access and viewing of video content is also a driver for mobile data traffic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. Other drivers are wider network coverage, continued reduction in prices of both devices and services and a growing population − with 57% of the current population under 15 years old.

"Data traffic is forecast to grow by around 55% annually between 2016 and 2022, that is a 13 times growth," according to Jean-Claude Geha, president of Ericsson Sub-Saharan Africa.

"This rapid growth is driving operators to explore methods of optimising network capacity, one of which is complementing traffic via WiFi networks – with traffic expected to rise 70% annually between 2016 and 2022," he adds.

Mobile broadband will also account for 90% of global and around 83% of Sub-Saharan Africa subscriptions by 2022.

Ericsson says that from 2016 to 2022, Sub-Saharan Africa will dramatically shift from a region with a majority of GSM/EDGE-only subscriptions, to around 83% of all subscriptions on WCDMA/HSPA and LTE. By the end of 2016, there will be 3.9 billion smartphone subscriptions globally. Almost 90% of these subscriptions will be registered on WCDMA/HSPA and LTE networks.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, smartphone penetration is predicted to reach around 80% by 2022, according to the report, while mobile subscriptions on smartphones will rise by 21% annually from 2016 to 2022.

The report also highlights the role the Internet of things (IOT) plays in providing new means to deliver efficient, innovative solutions that meet socio-economic challenges and transform business models to unlock growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. Across Sub-Saharan Africa, the report projects cellular IOT connections growing from 11 million in 2016 to 75 million connections in 2022.

The report also predicts 5G subscriptions will reach half a billion globally in 2022, with 25% coming from North America, which will represent the highest market penetration in the world.

The Ericsson Mobility Report provides in-depth measurements from live networks spread around the globe. The report uses these measurements and analysis, together with internal forecasts and other studies, to provide insights into current traffic and market trends in the networked society.


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