Mobile Africa: the Great Social Equalizer

For the latter part of the 20th Century, Africa’s stagnated growth and unreliable infrastructure allowed for only low-level fixed-line penetration. The advent of mobile, particularly pre-paid services has seen the continent effectively skip a phase of development, with a solid trend for growth meaning that in some countries mobile penetration has reached levels of close to 15 times that of fixed-line.

Deregulation, a vast take up of mobile payment services and a recent 3G rollout has made Africa a growth hotspot for telecommunications; and despite the global economic downturn and a level of subscription which has now passed 500m, the continent still offers room for opportunity for a wide range of local, regional and international players.

There are various factors which dictate operator potential in Africa. Deregulation has in many countries led the way for the industry’s expansion, and although the groundwork has been laid for cross-country regulatory unification in some regions, having a clear grasp of the local regulatory landscape is still vital for both new entrants and established players.

The rapid increase in mobile traffic has in many cases left operators with impaired performance in terms of customer experience. Following the lead of the broadband sector, which has recently seen enormous private investment in fibre-optic submarine cables to provide high-speed links between various African and international regions, it is imperative that mobile follows suite by investing in and improving existing networks in anticipation of next generation technology and the imminent data explosion.
Africa remains one of the world’s most dynamic telecom markets, where mobile in particular is acting as a great social equalizer, offering the same products, applications and services to a wildly differing range of markets and users; empowering knowledge transfer, and in the case of mobile payments, bringing basic financial services to rural inhabitants who would otherwise have no access to such services.

Axon has a wide range of telecoms consulting experience in Africa, having completed projects in profitability enhancement, 3G deployment and the crafting of a favourable regulatory environment  in various western territories.

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