Two-thirds of Africans are yet to be connected to a mobile service, according to Wireless Intelligence.
The total number of ‘unique’ individual mobile subscribers in Africa now stands at 356 million, representing some 33 percent of the continent’s population.
Wireless Intelligence’sGSMA study for fourth quarter 2012further reveals that Africa’s subscriber penetration rate is the lowest in the world and the one-in-three figure is about half of Africa’s penetration rate when calculated by connections.
Despite this, the number of connections are seeing an increase of about 15 percent a year, with year-on-year growth strongest in Middle Africa (23 percent), Eastern Africa (18 percent) and Western Africa (18 percent).
Joss Gillet, senior analyst at Wireless Intelligence, says that Africa is the world’s fastest-growing region in terms of both mobile connections and unique mobile subscribers, further noting the trend “will continue over the next five years.”
The ownership of multiple SIM cards has been attributed to growth, a trend common among budget-conscious consumers who target offers from different mobile operators.
Nigerians are said to have the highest level of SIM ownership at 2.39 SIM cards per user on average. MTN Nigeria notes further exacerbation of the trend from aggressive pricing competition, multitude of bonuses on [prepaid] recharge, freebies and other promotional activity.
Mobile industry’s news and analysis service, Mobile Business Briefing has highlighted the revelation as a major growth opportunity for regional operators that are able to extend affordable services into rural areas.
However, infrastructure challenges are a cause for major headache to telecoms on rural area penetration.
Focused on Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, a GSMA study shows that 73 percent of the rural population had mobile coverage compared to 100 percent in urban areas.