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2008 African - Mobile Communications and Mobile Data Markets

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Last updated: 10 Feb 2009 Update History

Report Status: Archived

Report Pages: 161

Analyst: Stephen McNamara

Publication Overview

This annual report offers a wealth of information on the mobile communications and mobile data markets in 38 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.


Researcher:- Peter Lange

Current Publication date:- February 2009 (5th Edition)

Next publication date:- October 2009


Executive Summary

Mobile phones represent around 90% of all telephone lines in Africa. The subscriber base is still growing at around 50% per year, but the 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 overall market penetration standing at little more than 30%, although the first African countries have recently broken the 100% barrier. 

With their superior national coverage and large subscriber bases, Africa’s mobile network operators have built up a level of market power to the extent that they have been called ‘the new incumbents.’ 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, following the launch of third generation mobile broadband services in a number of markets – a welcome new revenue stream in an almost entirely prepaid environment of low average revenue per user levels. 

Mobile banking is another emerging key trend that is revolutionising Africa’s financial sector, where only a small percentage of the population has access to traditional bank accounts.


Key highlights:

·         Under a new service-neutral licensing regime, there are now at least ten networks in Nigeria offering mobile services;

·         There are more 3G/HSPA mobile broadband users than ADSL subscribers in South Africa, mobile data revenue is growing at around 45% pa;

·         South African mobile operators are rolling out national fibre optic backbone networks;

·         3G mobile broadband attained a 25% share of Morocco’s broadband market in less than two years;

·         More than 10% of Kenya’s GDP now pass through the M-Pesa mobile banking service, which has more users than there are bank account holders in the country;

·         The mobile operators in the Democratic Republic of Congo claim they generate 30% of the total tax income of the state;

·         African mobile operators have taken a world lead role by abolishing international mobile roaming surcharges;

·         Mobile ARPU has bottomed in many markets, rising again with mobile data services and streamlined operations.


Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Nigeria – 1998 - 2008



































2008 (Mar)



(Source: BuddeComm based on NCC, Global Mobile, EMC and 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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