West Africa holds the key in Africa to Africa’s $57 billion mobile growth

At the end of  2016, there were 172 million unique subscribers in West Africa, accounting for 320 million mobile connections. Today, West Africa’s subscriber penetration rate now stands at 49%, slightly higher than the 47% penetration rate across the wider Sub-Saharan Africa region. Over the next four years, West Africa will see average subscriber growth of 6%, one of the fastest rates globally, resulting in an additional 45 million subscribers by 2020.

Last year GSMA published a report on Africa’s mobile economy  indicated that the number of smartphone connections across the continent almost doubled over the last two years, reaching 226 million.

In this year report by GSMA on The Mobile Economy West Africa 2017 it shows that despite problems with affordability and costs, for average Africans, over the next four years, West Africa will see average subscriber
growth of 6%, one of the fastest rates globally, resulting in an additional 45 million subscribers by 2020.

Despite uncertainty investment West Africa mobile market attracted $2.7 billion in 2016 and are expected to invest to get a cumulative $12.6 billion between 2017 and 2020.

“Operators’ investments in high-speed networks (with 14 4G network launches in the sub-region since the start of 2016) and the declining cost of smartphones are together driving the transition to mobile broadband. 3G and 4G connections will overtake 2G by mid-2019 and account for two-thirds of the total connections base by the end of 2020.”

While Nigeria the biggest market in the sub-region with half the total connections and revenues in 2016  and also account for two-thirds of new subscribers between 2016 and 2020. Five other countries – Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Niger and Senegal – will account for a quarter of the growth, equivalent to 11.6 million subscribers, over the same period.

In another study StreetInsider, the International Data Corporation’s (IDC)  shows that mobile app growth will total some 210 billion annual installs on users’ devices between 2016 and 2020, up from a total of 156 billion app downloads in 2015. The projected installs should represent some $57 billion in direct revenue to app developers in 2020.