New GSMA Study: Mobile Powering Economic Growth and Job Creation Across West Africa

West Africas mobile ecosystem generated more than $50 billion in economic value last year “ equivalent to 8.7 per cent of the regions GDP1, according to a new GSMA study. The 2019 West Africa edition of the GSMAs Mobile Economy report series is published at the ˜Mobile 360 “ West Africa event being held in Abidjan this week. The study finds that rising mobile phone ownership and the ongoing migration to mobile broadband networks and services across the region will see the mobile ecosystems economic contribution continue to increase over the coming years, forecast to reach almost $70 billion (9.5 per cent of GDP) by 2023.

Todays report underlines the vital role the mobile ecosystem is playing in contributing to economic growth, social development and job creation across West Africa, said Akinwale Goodluck, Head of Sub-Saharan Africa at the GSMA. To harness the power of a new generation of mobile users and mobile networks, we urge governments and policymakers in West Africa to develop regulatory frameworks that encourage innovation and investment in the sector, enabling the provision of mobile-powered digital services to citizens across the region.

The new report reveals that:

  • The number of unique mobile subscribers2 across West Africa reached 185 million at the end of 2018, equivalent to 48 per cent of the regions population. This number is forecast to rise to 248 million by 2025, 54 per cent of the population.
  • Future subscriber growth will largely be driven by young consumers owning a mobile phone for the first time; more than 40 per cent of the regions population are under 18 years old, according to the report.
  • 3G will overtake 2G to become the leading mobile technology in West Africa this year, supporting about half of the regions mobile connections3. 4G momentum is also building: ten new 4G networks have recently launched in West Africa, including the first ever 4G networks in Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone and Togo.
  • Local mobile operators are increasing investment in their networks and are expected to spend $8.5 billion (capex) on network infrastructure and services over the next two years (2019/2020).
  • West Africas mobile ecosystem directly employs around 200,000 people, supports 800,000 jobs in the informal employment sector, and a further 600,000 jobs across the wider economy.
  • Mobile is the primary platform for accessing the internet in West Africa; at the end of 2018, there were around 100 million mobile internet users in the region, up almost 20 million year-on-year.

The new report ˜The Mobile Economy, West Africa 2019 is authored by GSMA Intelligence, the research arm of the GSMA. To access the full report and related infographics, please visit: https://www.gsma.com/r/mobileeconomy/west-africa/

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About the GSMA

The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting more than 750 operators and nearly 400 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset and device makers, software companies, equipment providers and internet companies, as well as organisations in adjacent industry sectors. The GSMA also produces the industry-leading MWC events held annually in Barcelona, Los Angeles and Shanghai, as well as the Mobile 360 Series of regional conferences.

For more information, please visit the GSMA corporate website at www.gsma.com. Follow the GSMA on Twitter: @GSMA.

1 GDP contribution comprises mobile operators (1.8% of GDP); related industries (0.5%); indirect contribution (0.5%); and productivity improvements (5.9%).

2 A unique mobile subscriber represents an individual that can account for multiple SIM connections.

3 There were 328 million SIM connections West Africa at the end of 2018, excluding cellular IoT, forecast to rise to 442 million by 2025.

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