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Mobile data traffic in Sub-Saharan Africa is set to grow by an estimated 6.5 times, from the current 0.87EB per month to 5.6EB per month by 2026, according to the latest Ericsson Mobility Report.

The report also shows that average traffic per smartphone in the region is expected to reach 8.9GB over the forecast period.

At the same time, service providers are expected to continue investing in their infrastructure to meet the demand for increased capacity and coverage of cellular networks.

Across the region, mobile subscriptions will continue to grow over the forecast period as mobile penetration today, at 84%, is still less than the global average, and LTE is estimated to account for some 15% of subscriptions by the end of 2020.

The report again reiterates the importance of releasing more spectrum in Africa to expand coverage, improve network quality and encourage mobile adoption.

Good connectivity a cornerstone

“This latest edition of our Mobility Report highlights the fundamental need for good connectivity as a cornerstone to cater for this uptake as the demand for capacity and coverage of cellular networks continues to grow across Africa,” says Fadi Pharaon, President of Ericsson Middle East and Africa.

“Investing in network infrastructure and optimising spectrum assignments to deliver expansive 4G connectivity, paving the way for 5G, are critical requirements to consider in this journey and to accelerate digital transformation across the continent.”

Over the forecast period, mobile broadband subscriptions in Sub-Saharan Africa are predicted to increase to reach 76% of all mobile subscriptions. Factors driving this uptake include a young, growing population with increasing digital skills, as well as the availability of more affordable smartphones. Over the forecast period, distinct volumes of 5G subscriptions are expected from 2022, reaching 5% of all mobile in 2026.

While 5G and LTE subscriptions will continue to grow over the next six years, High-Speed Packet Access (HSPA) will remain the dominant technology in the region, with a share of over 40% in 2026.

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