ECOWAS Beats EAC, ECCA, and SADC in Mobile Phone Penetration

Mobile phone 

Accra, Ghana, May 8, 2018//-The West Africa sub-region, comprising the 15 member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has the highest mobile phone subscriber penetration figure of all the regional economic communities (RECs) in Sub-Saharan Africa.

 ECOWAS recorded 47%, while East African Community (EAC), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) had penetration levels of 42%, 40% and 44% at the end of 2017, compared to the regional figure of 44%, according to the recent GSMA report.

The report titled ‘The Mobile Economy: West Africa 2018’ which  is authored by GSMA Intelligence, the research arm of the GSMA, revealed that by the end of 2017, there were 176 million unique subscribers across the ECOWAS sub-region.

“Overall subscriber penetration reached 47% in 2017, up from 28% at the start of this decade”.

The number of mobile subscribers in the sub-region doubled between 2010 and 2017, reflecting a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of just under 10% over that period, the report added.

“Although annual subscriber growth has now slowed to single digit rates, reaching 6% in 2017, the sub-region remains one of the fastest growing mobile markets globally, with a forecast CAGR of 4.4% over the period to 2025”.

The mobile market in West Africa is markedly diverse, particularly in terms of size and subscriber penetration.

Nigeria is the largest market in the sub-region and contributed more than half of total subscribers in 2017. The next five largest markets – Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali and Senegal – accounted for another third of subscribers, leaving the remaining nine countries with less than a fifth of subscribers.

Subscriber penetration figures in most countries in the sub-region are within a few percentage points of the average, apart from outliers Niger on 31% and Cabo Verde on 67%.

While this underscores the potential for further subscriber growth, it also highlights the need to address the barriers to mobile adoption among underserved population groups, including women, rural dwellers, and low-income consumers.

Mobile adoption has grown rapidly in West Africa in recent years, helped by the expansion of mobile networks to underserved communities and the increasing affordability of services and device costs.

Across Sub-Saharan Africa, more than 40% of the population of many countries are below the age of 16. Furthermore, mobile adoption in this demographic, at less than 20%, is relatively low in comparison to the 70% subscriber penetration among adults.

Consequently, subscriber growth will be driven by a demographic shift in the coming years, as many young adults take out a mobile subscription. Over the period to 2025, around 72 million new mobile subscribers will be added in West Africa, taking subscriber penetration to 54%. Nigeria will account for the largest share of new subscribers, while Niger will record the fastest growth over this period.

Despite the remarkable subscriber growth in the sub-region in recent years, and indeed across Sub-Saharan Africa, more than half of the region’s population do not yet subscribe to a mobile service.

African Eye Report

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