Regional Focus: North Africa
There is huge variation in the mobile market maturity of countries in the MENA region, from the advanced Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states where 77% of the population on average are mobile subscribers, to some of the African Arab states such as Comoros, Djibouti and Somalia where subscriber penetration is less than 30%. In developing countries in the region, more than two thirds of the population on average do not use the mobile internet. Even by 2020, more than half of the population across these countries will remain offline. It is primarily in the developing countries of the region where subscriber penetration is at its lowest. For example, in Mauritania, although subscriber penetration is relatively high, only 14% of the population use the mobile internet. Operators in these low GNI per capita developing countries of North Africa face numerous challenges to connectivity, including low ARPU, over regulated markets, outdated legal and regulatory frameworks, difficulties in expanding network coverage, taxation and affordability, limited digital literacy and a lack of locally relevant content. Mobile is helping to overcome these barriers, while also providing identification solutions and responses to humanitarian crises. This in turn is improving financial and digital inclusion prospects across the region. This session will highlight how North African mobile operators are pursuing innovative services and new revenue streams to overcome some of the challenges present in these markets and deliver growth.