2007 African - Mobile Communications and Mobile Data Markets

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Last updated: 13 Nov 2007 Update History

Report Status: Archived

Report Pages: 221

Analyst: Stephen McNamara

Publication Overview

This annual report offers a wealth of information on the mobile communications and mobile data markets in 34 African countries. Subjects covered include:

  • Mobile statistics, trends, analysis;
  • Government policies and regulatory issues;
  • Major mobile operators;
  • Mobile technologies – GSM, CDMA, 3G;
  • Fixed-mobile convergence;
  • Prepaid;
  • Mobile data services – SMS, MMS, WAP, GPRS, EDGE, 3G;
  • Mobile satellite services;
  • Location-based services;
  • M-commerce, mobile banking.

Executive Summary

Mobile phones represent around 90% of all telephone lines in Africa. The continent’s mobile market as a whole is still consistently growing at around 50 to 60% every year, but the number of countries with triple-digit annual growth has decreased significantly. The subscriber growth curves are beginning to flatten in the continent’s more mature markets, forcing operators to compete more aggressively on price, quality of service and by introducing new services. However, enormous further potential remains, with market penetration standing at little more than 20%.

Newly introduced converged licensing regimes have increased the competitive pressure in a number of key markets but also allow the mobile operators to branch out into new service segments.

Due to Africa’s poor fixed-line infrastructure, the mobile networks are beginning to play an increasing role in Internet service provision as well, following the launch of 3G services in a number of markets – a welcome new revenue stream in an almost entirely prepaid environment of low ARPU levels.

Mobile banking is another emerging key trend in a market where only a small percentage of the population has access to bank accounts.

Africa’s mobile network operators have built up a level of market power with their superior national coverage and large subscriber bases to the extent that they have been called "the new incumbents".

Key highlights:

  • Mobile market forecasts to 2010 and 2015 for 16 African countries;
  • Converged licensing regimes increase competition in the mobile sector;
  • Record prices are being paid for investments in African mobile operations;
  • Foreign investors, mainly from Europe, the Middle East and South Africa continue to expand their footprints in the region;
  • Third Generation (3G) mobile is gaining a foothold in Africa;
  • Mobile network operators are pushing fixed-mobile and Internet convergence;
  • Wireless and mobile broadband is overtaking ADSL;
  • The Democratic Republic of Congo is set to become the world’s first entirely wireless country, with virtually no fixed-line network left;
  • A number of countries in the region have taken a world lead role by abolishing international mobile roaming surcharges;
  • South Africa, the continent’s biggest mobile market, is approaching saturation;
  • Nigeria is set to take over as the biggest mobile market, but its growth curve is also beginning to flatten, while US$2 billion in investments continue to flow into its telecommunications market every year;
  • Mobile data revenue close to 10% of total in South Africa;
  • Libya’s mobile market penetration has skyrocketed from one of the lowest in Africa to one of the highest within only two years.

Mobile subscribers and penetration in Libya – 1998 - 2006

Year Subscribers Penetration
1998 20,000 0.34%
1999 28,000 0.51%
2000 39,800 0.71%
2001 50,000 0.89%
2002 70,000 1.3%
2003 127,000 2.3%
2004 320,000 5.6%
2005 877,700 15%
2006 4,015,000 67%
(Source: BuddeComm based on industry data)

Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year.

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