The number of 3G customers in Africa is set to grow from 114 million in 2013 to 210 million by the end of 2015, according to a new study from ABI Research.
The market-research company says that mobile growth in Africa remains far more robust than in other regions, with the number of mobile subscribers reaching 863 million at the end of June, up 9.3% on the year-earlier figure.
ABI Research reckons the number of mobile customers will continue to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.6% between now and 2018, when it will 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 to 210 million by 2015,” said Marina Lu, a research associate at ABI Research.
ABI Research is also forecasting a surge in the adoption of 4G LTE services over the next five years.
Although most countries are still extending 3G networks, LTE services have been launched in South Africa, Ghana and Nigeria, and the continent was home to about 200,000 LTE subscribers at the end of June.
“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, a vice president and practice director of core forecasting at ABI Research.
“By the end of 2018, Africa is expected to gain 51.2 million LTE subscriptions, demonstrating a CAGR of 118%,” added Saunders.
MTN Nigeria is the fastest-growing African operator, according to the study, as well as the largest, having increased its subscriber base by 10 million between June 2012 and June 2013, to give it 53 million customers in total.
ABI Research attributes its success to the introduction of tariff reductions between July and September last year, making mobile services a lot more affordable for low-income users.
Zain Nigeria and EMTS, another Nigerian player, were the second- and third-fastest-growing operators in Africa, according to ABI Research, over the same period.