By Steve Umidha
The number of unique mobile subscribers in Sub Saharan Africa will rise from the 641 million seen at close of 2018 to 871 million by the close of 2025, which is a 6 per cent increase.
Sub-Saharan Africa is still in the midst of stabilizing after economic struggles that have inhibited strong GDP growth in the past few years. Despite the lull in GDP growth, the digital exodus to mobile phone ownership in SSA has surged. In fact, the growth in the digital space in the region is significantly exceeding GPD growth.
At the end of 2018, 5.1 billion people across the world owned a mobile device subscription, and it is estimated that by 2025 this number will grow to 5.8 billion. A 4 per cent growth rate may not seem like much off the cuff but if this prediction actualizes, 700 million people who did not have access to mobile devices in 2018 would gain access by 2025.
To put this in perspective, 700 million people is more than the population of the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, Mexico, and Australia combined.
That is a massive number of people, but it is important to note that growth is not coming equally from all regions of the world. For this reason, we will examine and compare the landscapes of mobile phone penetration in regions across the globe in this post.
The quickest growth in mobile penetration is coming from Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and the Asia Pacific. In these regions, basic mobile technology is becoming increasingly accessible to the masses. This growth is not only because of technological development that occurred or structural changes that took place but also because of a phenomenon that has been referred to as “leap-frogging”.
In essence, regions that were low-tech 15-20 years ago are adopting mobile telecommunications technology today by purchasing low cost mobile phones.
These mobile phones are only affordable options today due to years of technological development in regions like North America and China. Years of product development and research took the technology from expensive, bulky desktop computers to advanced handheld mobile devices.
During that time, simple mobile phone devices became exponentially cheaper to produce, distribute, and use in locations without structure for wired technology. Today, populations in regions like Africa and Latin America have been able to leap-frog over the process of developing wired telephone networks and instead move toward digital inclusion by purchasing rather affordable mobile phones.