The industry contributed more than $100 billion to the region’s economy last year – equivalent to 5.7% of gross domestic product, according to a study by the GSMA association which represents mobile operators.
The report forecasts that there will be 386 million cellphone subscribers in sub-Saharan Africa by the end of this year which is equivalent to 41 % of the population.
The GSMA acting director-general Alex Sinclair said, “The mobile industry remains a key driver of economic growth and employment in Sub-Saharan Africa, making a vital contribution given the population growth and high unemployment levels seen in many countries,”
“Mobile technology is also playing a central role in sub-Saharan Africa by addressing a range of socio-economic challenges, particularly digital and financial inclusion, and enabling access to vital services such as education and healthcare.”
For many Africans faced with poor or non-existent landline infrastructure, cellphones are the route to the internet instead of laptops or desktop computers. The number of subscribers has grown by 13% a year during the first half of this decade – more than twice the global average. But the growth rate in Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to slow sharply over the next five years, to around 6%.
The GSMA M360 Series came to a close last week.