Number of smartphone users to spike in Sub-Saharan Africa

09 June 2023 2 min. read
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Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to witness a spike in smartphone adoption in the coming years, with 87% of the population forecasted to be smartphone adepts by 2030. This is according to a study by GSMA.

The number of mobile subscribers in Sub-Saharan Africa has been steadily increasing and is projected to continue its growth over the next seven years, ultimately reaching a total of nearly 700 million by the end of the next decade.

While mobile penetration in Sub-Saharan Africa is anticipated to reach 50% by 2030, that number will still lag the global average (73% by then) by a considerable distance.

Number of smartphone users to spike in Sub-Saharan Africa

Among the countries within the region, Mauritius will boast the highest penetration rate, encompassing 93% of its population.

As of 2022, Sub-Saharan Africa had approximately 287 million mobile internet subscribers. Here too, the region still faces a substantial gap in mobile internet usage, underscoring the influence of various impediments to mobile internet adoption, said the researchers in the report.

Number of smartphone users to spike in Sub-Saharan Africa

The mobile internet landscape in the region exhibits significant disparities. Mobile internet penetration levels exceed 50% in countries such as Mauritius, South Africa and the Seychelles, whereas they remain below 15% in Benin, Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

4G and 5G

By 2030, there will be an almost doubling of 4G connections in the region, leading to a substantial increase in 4G adoption rates in Sub-Saharan Africa. This growth will account for 49% of the total connections, primarily propelled by ongoing network enhancements and initiatives aimed at making 4G devices more accessible.

Number of smartphone users to spike in Sub-Saharan Africa

The momentum for 5G is also building in the region as operators work on modernizing and preparing their networks. Anticipated 5G adoption rates are set to increase rapidly in the latter half of this decade, projecting a rise to 17% by the year 2030.

Sub-Saharan Africa is predicted to have 226 million 5G connections by 2030. Nearly half of these connections – a sizeable portion – will be located in South Africa and Nigeria. According to GSMA’s calculations, 5G is expected to add $11 billion to Sub-Saharan Africa’s economy.