Transition to mobile broadband heralds emerging digital lifestyle
By GSMA Intelligence
2019 is a pivotal year for the mobile market in Sub-Saharan Africa; by the end of the year, mobile broadband connections (3G and above) will account for the majority (54%) of total mobile connections for the first time. The key drivers for this development include the rapid expansion of 3G and 4G networks, and rising smartphone adoption. 3G and 4G networks now cover 75% and 48% of the population, respectively, while smartphone adoption has tripled in the last three years and now accounts for 2 in 5 of total mobile connections.
This important inflection point for the region indicates a growing shift in the way people use their mobile phones, from basic voice to more data-centric services, such as social networking, video streaming, and online gaming. It also raises the prospects of further digital disruption in several sectors. For example, as more people begin to use the mobile internet, we could see a significant increase in online shopping and ride-hailing services. This could fundamentally change existing business models and value chains, not only in the retail and transport sectors, but across other consumer-centric sectors as well.
Looking ahead, Sub-Saharan Africa will move quickly towards being a digital-first society. A key factor that will drive this trend is the region’s demographic make-up. With more than 40% of the population below the age of 15 years, the next decade will see the emergence of a new generation of ‘digital natives’, and a wide range of digital lifestyle services that support new ways people live, work, play and communicate. Ericsson’s latest mobility report forecasts a sevenfold increase in mobile data consumption per subscriber over the period to 2024. This underscores the scale of data consumption growth in the coming years.