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Mobile Data Usage Doubles in Sub-Saharan Africa

Tim Maytom

African man modern dress on phoneMobile data usage in sub-Saharan Africa doubled between 2012 and 2013, according to a report from Ericsson, providing huge opportunities for mobile service providers, telecommunication equipment manufacturers and software developers.

The report also predicts that data use will continue to double annually for most of the next six years, and that mobile subscriptions will grow from 551m, as of the end of 2013, to 930m by the close of 2019. The region's mobile penetration of 70 per cent will soon increase to close to the global average of 92 per cent.

Digital services like mobile banking have a huge impact in sub-Saharan Africa, where the widely spread rural population lacks the kind of transportation systems that give regular access to traditional banks. 58 per cent of mobile users in the region have shown an interest in mobile banking and mobile wallet use, which will boost financial inclusion across all levels of society.

With factors like a high number of national broadband policies, growing ICT integration into industries like agriculture and film, and increasing amounts of local content delivered via mobile, growth in the region will continue to be driven for the rest of the decade. By 2019, three quarters of mobile subscriptions in sub-Saharan Africa are expected to be 3G or 4G, and mobile data traffic will be 20 times what it is today.

Smartphone subscriptions globally will exceed those for feature phones by 2016, Ericsson forecasts, driving higher data use across the world.