Ericsson says data demand in Africa continues to rise

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A Africa it has become home to more than a billion people and the population is expected to grow in the coming years. The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector is essential for Africa's development.

Proper deployment of ICT and digital connectivity services will play a crucial role on the continent to achieve economic sustainability. Mobile data traffic in Sub-Saharan Africa is forecast to grow 12 times more than current numbers, with total traffic increasing from 0,33 Exabytes (EB) per month to 4EB by 2025. Meanwhile, average smartphone traffic should reach 7,1GB during the forecast period, according to the Ericsson Mobility Report.

The main drivers will be the wide coverage of the network and the reduction of prices for devices and services. In addition, driven by the rapid increase in access to relevant video content, with new service providers providing and aggregating local content finding initial success in larger markets.

The driving factors behind the growth in mobile broadband subscriptions include a young and growing population with growing digital skills. Falling data prices and increasing smartphone accessibility due to lower prices are also driving growth.

The increase in mobile data traffic in Africa is leading operators to look at opportunities to optimize their network capabilities, including complementary capacity via Wi-Fi networks.

Thus, mobile and fixed networks have become key components of critical national infrastructure in Africa. In Sub-Saharan Africa, LTE accounted for about 11% of subscriptions in 2019. During the forecast period, mobile broadband subscriptions are expected to increase, reaching 72% of mobile subscriptions. LTE's share will reach around 30% at the end of the forecast period, and LTE subscriptions are expected to triple, from 90 million in 2019 to 270 million in 2025.

However, there are four fundamental requirements to be addressed to establish the link between broadband penetration and economic growth:

  1.  Broadband must reach a critical mass of citizens in a country;
  2.  Broadband access must be accessible;
  3.  Demand-side skills must be developed to optimize broadband services for personal and business use;
  4. Supply-side skills need to be developed to exploit the innovative potential of broadband.

The international organization GSMA estimated that an increase in mobile data penetration may be linked to an increase in annual GDP growth of a minimum of 0,5%. Because wireless connectivity allows business to be done on the move, it allows information and services to be accessible anywhere and will create new services and industries.

The mobile industry in Africa is said to be a major contributor to a country's economy and enables new economic activity in other sectors with the adoption of Internet of Things (IoT).

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