2010 African Mobile Broadband, Data and Mobile Media Market

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Last updated: 8 Mar 2010 Update History

Report Status: Archived

Report Pages: 157

Analyst: Peter Lange

Publication Overview

This annual report offers a wealth of information on the mobile broadband and data market in 38 African countries as well as the emerging market for mobile content, applications and media on the continent. Subjects covered include:

·         Mobile data services – SMS, MMS, WAP, GPRS, EDGE, 3G;

·         3G mobile broadband technologies – WCDMA, HSPA, EV-DO;

·         Statistics, trends and analysis;

·         Major market players;

·         Mobile content, applications and media;

·         Mobile TV;

·         Location-based services;

·         M-commerce, m-payments, m-banking.


The countries covered in this report include: Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.


Researcher:- Peter Lange

Current publication date:- March 2010 (6th Edition)

Next publication date:- April 2011

Executive Summary

Mobile data and broadband technologies are increasingly being used as a substitute for poor or non-existent fixed-line infrastructure in Africa. In vast parts of the continent, the mobile network operators are the only providers of any kind of telecommunication service apart from satellite services. As subscriber growth peaks, many of them have established themselves as Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and are playing an increasing role in the broadband sector, competing directly with fixed broadband services such as DSL – a welcome new revenue stream in an environment of shrinking average revenue per user (ARPU) in the voice market.


Third generation (3G) mobile technologies, coupled with improvements in international fibre and national backbone network infrastructure are now capable of delivering broadband Internet access to a wider part of the continent’s close to one billion population. However, the price of end user devices will be a key factor. The prepaid mass market will only adopt advanced services on a broad scale once prices for 3G handsets and modems as well as personal computers have reached affordable levels.


Like elsewhere in the world, Short Message Service (SMS) still accounts for the bulk of Africa’s mobile data traffic and revenue, but in recent years there has also been an increasing interest in Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) and other forms of mobile messaging and social media, downloads of ring tones, logos, music and games, as well as SMS-based information and lifestyle services. Premium rate and bulk SMS services are generating millions in revenues. Third parties are continuously developing new value-added services and applications.


Mobile TV services have been launched in at least ten African countries. A boost for these services is expected from the FIFA World Cup to be hosted in South Africa in 2010.


M-payments and mobile banking is another key growth area that is revolutionising Africa's financial sector, where only a small percentage of the population has access to traditional banking system. In the continent’s most advanced markets, m-commerce, mobile content, applications and media have reached a level of development that is beginning to foster an associated advertising and marketing industry.


WCDMA 3G subscribers in selected African countries – March 2009



Annual growth
















South Africa






(Source: BuddeComm based on Global Mobile and industry data)


Market highlights:

·       3G mobile networks have been launched in more than 20 African countries, with rollouts in progress in many others;

·       Most operators have included High-Speed Packet Access (HSPA) mobile broadband in their service offerings;

·       There are more 3G mobile broadband users than ADSL subscribers in key African markets;

·       The first 20Mb/s mobile broadband service is expected in Africa in 2010;

·       African mobile operators make up to 13% of their revenues with mobile data services;

·       Non-messaging mobile data revenue grew by 70% in South Africa in 2009 while overall mobile data revenue increased by 30%;

·       Mobile data services have helped to reverse declining average revenue per user (ARPU) in some markets;

·       The UMTS Forum forecasts that revenues of African 3G operators will exceed US$7 billion in 2010;

·       The 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa is expected to deliver a boost to Mobile TV services which have been launched in at least ten African countries;

·       Some African banks have more customers using mobile banking than online banking;

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


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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