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Research and Markets: 50% mobile penetration in Africa this year

Research and Markets has announced the addition of African Mobile Voice Market and Major Network Operators to its range of reports. This annual report deals with mobile communications and mobile data markets in 38 African countries...

 

Research and Markets has announced the addition of African Mobile Voice Market and Major Network Operators to its range of reports. This annual report deals with mobile communications and mobile data markets in 38 African countries.

The report provides information on many areas of mobile communications: regulation, prepaid versus postpaid, fixed-mobile convergence, mobile satellite, and which technologies are used. On a more sensitive front, data on major shareholders, major contracts and ARPU is also included.

Mobile phones represent more than 90% of all telephone lines in Africa. This year, market penetration is expected to pass the 50% mark, although subscriber growth is forecast by the authors to slow to around 20% per annum. However, several individual markets are still growing at more than 100% per annum and stand at only single-digit penetration rates: the continent’s most advanced markets have passed the 100% penetration mark.

Although the greatest demand is in the major cities, cellular solutions are also being employed to increase accessibility in rural and other disadvantaged areas. In addition to mobile networks, Wireless Local Loop systems have been introduced in a large number of countries for the provision of fixed-wireless services. Additional choices are available through satellite-based mobile services such as Globalstar, ICO, Iridium and Thuraya.

The introduction of prepaid services and a steady decline in tariffs has meant that about half of Africa's close to one billion people can now afford a mobile phone. However, as lower and lower income groups are being targeted, the declining Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) is putting pressure on the network operators’ profit margins. Literal price wars have broken out in some markets where a large number of operators have been licensed.

Despite the challenges listed, international investors are still very keen to enter the market through new mobile licences or shares in existing mobile operations in Africa. Further market highlights mentioned by Research and Market include:

mobile market penetration in Africa is expected to pass 50% during 2010;

at least eight African countries will have broken the 100% mobile penetration barrier by the end of the year while some African mobile markets are still growing at more than 100% per annum;

overall growth across the continent is expected to slow to 17%;

mobile ARPU has bottomed in some markets but is still falling rapidly in others;

some mobile operators are rolling out national fibre-optic backbone networks and are entering new service sectors under converged licensing regimes; and

Mergers and Acquisitions are expected to intensify in an increasingly crowded market.

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