USD2.5bn in mobile broadband revenue
Booming social media and drops in handset prices will double mobile broadband revenue in West and Central Africa by 2017, says a new report.
A new report by Frost & Sullivan says the West and Central African region has witnessed a dramatic increase in mobile broadband connections in the last decade, with much of the growth attributed to the surge in mobile broadband adoption in Nigeria. Both Nigeria's and Ghana's regulatory environments have helped them create the most dynamic broadband markets in sub-Saharan Africa, with over 150 market participants and massive terrestrial infrastructure development.
Advanced technologies such as 3G networks in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Gabon will lead mobile broadband subscriptions to outpace fixed broadband connections in these two countries over the next 5 years, it says.
Frost & Sullivan finds that the market generated revenues of approximately USD1.2 billion in 2010 and estimates this to more than double to USD2.5 billion in 2017 across Nigeria, Ghana, DRC and Gabon. There are significant growth opportunities in the short-to-long term, in part due to low levels of existing broadband penetration in the region.
"The availability of cost-effective mobile and wireless solutions will be a key market driver," notes Frost & Sullivan's Information and Communications Technologies Research Analyst Mervin Miemoukanda. "At the same time, greater demand for access to social media platforms will emerge as the most important factor for market participants to formulate their strategy for this year."
Rising demand for broadband services in the region has helped reduce the cost of both customer-premises equipment (CPE) as well as smartphones. Additionally, internet service providers (ISPs) have introduced affordable Chinese CPE to render broadband services to consumers at reduced cost.
"Furthermore, broadband providers are expected to increase partnerships with equipment vendors to reduce the cost of customer-premises equipment," adds Miemoukanda. "The impact of this driver is expected to be high throughout the forecast period, as mobile operators are shifting focus on growing their data offerings."
Increasingly computer-literate societies and the simultaneous advent of social media platforms have boosted demand for broadband connections across the region, driving a surge in the population of broadband users.
"The increase in broadband users has been primarily because mobile operators have deployed advanced technology networks," remarks Miemoukanda. "As consumers are becoming more aware of the benefits of social media platforms, this driver is expected to remain high throughout the forecast period in all four countries."
Decreased bandwidth costs will dramatically increase the uptake of broadband services among individual households, as well as small and medium companies. Mobile operators are expected to shift focus on broadband services to maintain profit margins as voice revenues continue declining.
"Mobile operators are expected to improve the quality of services through continuous infrastructure investment, such as network capacity upgrade and deployments of new technologies; develop innovative solutions such as cyber cafés for broadband services targeting the mass market and focus on enterprise solutions" concludes Miemoukanda. "These strategies will help mobile operators sustain their profit margins."