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The latest Ericsson Mobility report shows mobile data traffic in Sub-Saharan Africa is estimated to grow by 12 times the current figures with all traffic increasing from 0.33 Exabytes (EB) per month to 4EB by 2025. Mobile broadband subscriptions are predicted to reach 72% of mobile subscriptions while LTE subscriptions are set to triple, increasing from 90 million in 2019 to 270 million in 2025.

Key drivers will be extensive network coverage and the reduction in prices of both devices and services. The increase of mobile data traffic in Africa is driving operators to look at opportunities to optimize their network capacities, including complementing capacity via Wi-Fi networks. 

Behind the Increase

Driving factors behind the growth of mobile broadband subscriptions include a young and growing population with increasing digital skills. Declining data prices and an increase in the accessibility of smartphones due to lower prices is also driving growth.

As the demand for mobile data increases, more ICT investment in mobile broadband is the crucial solution to meet future requirements.

Access to high-quality broadband services is based on networks that supports rapid growth in internet traffic as well as competitive pricing. There is supporting evidence that proves that a rise in mobile broadband penetration can be linked to economic growth and job creation.

Economic Results and 5G

Although supporting evidence may vary in its estimation on the exact contribution to the economy, there is enough to support the claims that an increase in broadband penetration is associated with increases in Gross Domestic Product (GDP), creating jobs, increasing educational opportunities and enhancing service delivery and rural development.

There are four key requirements needed to establish the link between broadband penetration and economic growth. Broadband must reach a critical mass of a country’s citizens, broadband access must be affordable, demand-side skills must be developed to optimize broadband services for personal and business use and supply-side skills to exploit the innovative potential of broadband.

The GSMA has estimated that an increase in penetration of mobile data, can be linked to an increase in annual GDP growth of a minimum of 0.5%. As wireless connectivity enables business to be done on the go, it allows information and services to be accessed anywhere and will create new services and industries. It has been stated that the mobile industry in Africa is a key contributor to a country’s economy and enables new economic activity in other sectors with the adoption of IoT.

As an augmentation of current mobile technologies, 5G could consequently ensure significant economic advantages for a country’s citizens. However, the characteristics in speed, reliability and latency means that 5G can potentially be a technology that will enable new markets, develop and transform current industries, as well as support socio-economic benefits.

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