‘Telephone subscription rates in SSA may fall’ - google

Mobile phone billsMobile sector to add $20b tax revenue to economies
TELEPHONE subscriptions, especially mobile in sub- Saharan Africa (SSA), which reached 367 million subscribers in 2015 is projected to witness a sharp fall in 2016 and beyond with growth in the second half of this decade set to be around seven per cent compared to 14 per cent in the first half.
As such, just half of the population of the region is expected to have subscribed to a mobile service by 2020, highlighting the challenges that remain in bringing connectivity to unconnected population across the region.
According to the Global System for Mobile Telecommunications Association (GSMA) in a report titled: ‘The Mobile Economy: sub-Saharan Africa 2015’, mobile operators’ revenue growth is also slowing across SSA, reflecting slowing subscriber growth but also the impact of external factors such as growing competitive pressures and regulatory action.
SSA countries surveyed, which are about 48 included Nigeria, South Africa, Angola, Ghana, Kenya; Sudan; Malawi, Mauritania; Benin; Chad, among others.
GSMA noted that from a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of almost seven per cent for 2010–2015; growth is set to slow to five per cent out to 2020. It pointed out that the challenge for operators was to continue to monetise the ongoing growth in data traffic and encourage uptake of data-centric services by consumers, while expanding mobile coverage to underserved areas, at a time when traditional revenues are under pressure.
The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting nearly 800 operators with more than 250 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.
For the region under focus, GSMA said the mobile industry remained a key driver of economic growth and employment across the region, making an important contribution given the population growth and high unemployment levels.
“In 2014, the broader mobile ecosystem generated 5.7 per cent of GDP in sub-Saharan Africa, a contribution of just over $100 billion in economic value. Migration to mobile broadband and the growth of new services will see this figure increase to 8.2 per cent of GDP by 2020, reflecting how increased access to mobile services generates regional growth and development”, it stated.
In terms of job creation, the study revealed that the mobile ecosystem supported 4.4 million jobs in the region in 2014, a figure that will increase to more than six million by 2020. It added that the mobile sector also made a substantial contribution to the funding of the public sector, with approximately $15 billion raised in 2014 in the form of general taxation, which is set to rise to $20 billion by 2020 and also made further contributions in the form of license and regulatory fees and spectrum auction payments.
GSMA observed that the continued vibrancy of the mobile economy in SSA depends heavily on the actions of the region’s policymakers and regulators. According to it, If governments can create a flexible, forward-looking and fair regulatory environment, the region will enjoy many more benefits.
It stressed that through well-designed regulatory frameworks; governments can nurture and encourage the innovation enabled by mobile technologies and services, thereby enabling Africa to further enjoy the benefits of digitization.
According to it, policy-makers also play a pivotal role in determining the affordability of mobile devices and services. If SSA is to build a digital economy, governments’ taxation policies need to prioritise economic growth over short-term receipts. In a similar vein, competition policies and regulatory frameworks need to be designed to encourage, rather than curtail, investment. If mobile operators are unable to make a return on their investments, they will not be able to raise the funds necessary to build the broadband infrastructure the region needs to create a vibrant digital economy.

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