Following identification as a potentially strong Internet market, Eastern and Central Africa have now been singled out as markets set for exceptional growth on cellular applications.
Two countries, Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo, were identified as the main drivers of growth at a recent conference: 187% growth by 2010 is the key statistic. The analysts and executives looked at a region which stretches from Sudan in the north to Tanzania in the south and Cameroon in the west, and predicted that 55 million subscribers would be in place by 2010, as new networks come online and competition forces down prices.
Reasons behind the forecasts included political stability in an area long beset by civil strife, natural resources notably Congo's diamonds, affordability (competition coming into force), and population size (Congo has 56 million people).
Vitalis Olunga, head of regulatory and public policy at Kenyan cellular operator Safaricom, and chairman of lobby group GSM Africa, believes: "There is a lot of potential in Sudan due to political change. It is already taking (off), and we believe there will be more growth...In DRC there is penetration of just 5%, and we expect a lot more in that area."