Cellular Penetration in Africa Expected to Surpass 80% in 1Q-2013

Oyster Bay, New York - 28 Nov 2012

​The African cellular market is very much pulling in the subscribers. In 3Q-2012, the 54 countries and 1.08 billion people have accumulated 821 million subscriptions, up 16.9% year-on-year, resulting in a cellular subscription penetration of 76.4%. In the first quarter of 2013, cellular penetration will eclipse 80%. Given the fact that a significant percentage of prepaid users maintain more than one active prepaid subscription to minimize interconnection charges, there is still subscriber growth to be had. “While Western Europe languishes with barely positive overall growth quarter-on-quarter, Africa managed to generate 4.2% growth in the same period,” commented Marina Lu, research associate, ABI Research.

“Subscriptions are still very much dominated by voice communications and text messaging in the form of GSM, with 62.7%. 3G subscriptions—both CDMA2000 and WCDMA—still only represent 11% of the overall African market, while 27% of the market still relies on 2.5G access technologies for mobile data access,” stated Jake Saunders, VP – Forecasting.

Given the lack of access to credit card and banking facilities, the vast majority of subscriber’s access mobile phone services through prepaid. In South Africa, prepaid ratios for the operators range from 70% to 86% but most other countries prepaid ratios stand at over 95%, if not close to 99%.

The top 7 power houses of the region are:

  • MTN Nigeria—43.2m subscriptions
  • Vodacom—37.7m subscriptions
  • Vodafone Egypt—37.5m subscriptions
  • MobiNil—32.4m subscriptions
  • MTN South Africa—23.5m subscriptions
  • Etisalat Misr—22.9m subscriptions
  • Glo Mobile—22.0m subscriptions

The cellular market in Africa is expected to grow to 1.12 billion by 2017, contributing 13.9% to take the global cellular market to 8.11 billion.

ABI Research’s quarterly updated “Middle East and African Subscriber” Market Data, profiles mobile subscriber adoption by operator, country, technology, device type, and subscriber market-share. Detailed market trends and market forecast information for key regions and countries around the globe are provided. These findings are part of the company’s Mobile Subscribers Database.

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