Mobile phone usage contributes more to the economy in Africa than to any other region in the world, according to new research from the GSM Association (GSMA).
The industry body reckons mobile accounts for more than 6% of Africa’s GDP and expects this figure to rise to about 8% by 2020.
Last year, it says, the mobile industry supported some 3.3 million jobs and contributed $21 billion to public funding in the region, including license fees, but it looks set to employ 6.6 million men and women and contribute $42 billion to public funding by 2020.
In sub-Saharan Africa, the “unique” mobile subscriber base has grown by 18% annually over the last five years, says the GSMA, making it the fastest-growing region globally.
More advanced 3G and 4G services are also catching on, but the industry body has urged policymakers to be more supportive in future.
“Beyond further growth for basic voice services, the region is starting to see an explosion in the uptake of mobile data,” said Tom Phillips, the GSMA’s chief regulatory officer. “However, a short-term focus by some countries on generating high spectrum fees and maximizing tax revenue risks constraining the potential of the mobile internet.”
The GSMA says that more transparent and stable policy frameworks would support the development of new mobile services in areas like telehealth and mobile banking, bringing further socio-economic benefits to Africa’s population.
“The mobile industry has already had a transformative effect on the social and economic life of Sub-Saharan Africa but there is scope for far greater growth and innovation, if the right conditions are established,” said Phillips. “In addressing key regulatory concerns, policy makers throughout the region have a major opportunity to unlock the potential of a dynamic and interconnected Africa.”