The African mobile telecom market is forecast to grow from a combined value of over US$60 billion in 2013, to a value in 2020 of almost US$234 billion – with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21.27%.
This is according to new research conducted by Manifest Mind, a sustainability research and consulting company based in Boulder, Colorado.
The firm says that mobile network operators will generate the largest portion of this revenue throughout the forecast period, followed by mobile distributors and retailers.
Application developers and content providers will also benefit, the research notes.
“Africa is a market which is largely misunderstood due to cultural and social issues. While African countries include half of the top 10 fastest-growing economies in the world, it is a very challenging marketplace to penetrate,” said Carol Stimmel, founder of Manifest Mind, LLC.
Meanwhile, ABI Research forecasts that by the end of 2018, Africa is expected to gain 51.2 million LTE subscriptions.
The research firm adds that 3G subscriptions will grow rapidly from 114 million in 2013 to 210 million by 2015.
At the end of 2Q-2013, the total subscriptions in Africa reached 863 million—a strong growth of 9.3% year-on-year (YoY), which is substantially more robust than other regions around the world.
Africa’s growth trajectory will continue up to 2018, with a CAGR of 6.6%, to reach 1.25 billion.
“What’s more, due to the lower comparative 3G penetration of 13.8% in Africa at the end of 2013, ABI Research forecasts that Africa 3G subscriptions will grow rapidly from 114 million in 2013 to 210 million by 2015,” said Marina Lu, research associate at ABI Research.
While the vast majority of African countries are still in the process of extending and enhancing their 3G networks, some major African markets, such as South Africa, Ghana, and Nigeria have launched 4G networks, notching up 0.2 million LTE subscriptions by the end of Q2-2013.
“Mobile voice revenues are still a key revenue generator for African mobile operators but the growing momentum behind mobile data services is providing a wider stimulus for entrepreneurship, healthcare, and just as crucially, education,” said Jake Saunders, VP and practice director of core forecasting.
In terms of growth in African mobile subscriptions by carrier, Nigeria is proving to be the market to be in.
MTN Nigeria is not only the fastest growing mobile operator in Africa but also the largest.
The operator increased its subscriber base by 10 million YoY, to reach 53 million. The second and the third fastest growing mobile operators in Africa were also based in Nigeria: Zain Nigeria, 5.4 million YoY; and EMTS with subscription growth of 2.9 million.