Over the past decade, mobile internet usage has exploded throughout Africa working its way into the daily life of smartphone and tablet users, enabling consumers to access and share information on the go.
For many citizens, mobile is their only means of accessing the internet, helping to unlock significant and life-enhancing knowledge, products and services.
According to industry data, Ovum research revealed that mobile broadband connections are expected to surpass 1.08 billion by 2024.
The rapid growth of mobile internet is expected to continue, with the World Bank aiming to achieve universal “affordable and good quality broadband access” in Africa by 2030.
This would add nearly 1.1 billion new users to the continent’s network between now and the end of the decade, at a cost of roughly $109 billion (€ 92.5 billion) for 4G service or equivalent.
Ovum research also projected that 31% of households will only use connected mobile devices for all their data requirements by 2024 (mobile-only), while disclosing that 5G would severely cannibalize fixed broadband services.
Based on recent research into 20 tier 1 countries, Ovum forecasted that the proportion of mobile-only households – those that do not have fixed broadband but only use connected mobile devices for all their data requirements – will rise by 14 percentage points to over 30% of households globally in 2024.
Mobile-only growth will be strongest in emerging markets with slow or stagnant fixed broadband network coverage but affordable 3G, 4G, and eventually 5G services.
At the same time, consumer fixed broadband penetration will also rise – but at a slower rate – to reach 50% by 2023. More than 80% of the world will have internet access by 2024, up from 60% in 2017.
Ovum forecasted that 685 million households will access the internet or watch video on mobile networks only by 2024, up from 339 million in 2017.
Business Remarks gathered that in January 2019, 4.4 billion people were active internet users and 3.5 billion were social media users. More than half of all video streaming comes from a mobile device while in the US, it was reported consumers spent 90% of their mobile time in apps.
Mobile internet has grown 504% in daily media consumption since 2011.
Nigeria has the 7th highest number of mobile phone users in the world; 172 million in 2019, according to Stears Business.
Speaking on this, an industry expert from the group Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), Juliet Nanfuka said “generally, across Africa continent, mobile devices remain the primary avenue for people to access the internet in place of laptops and similar digital devices,” which works to support development and reduce poverty through communication technologies.
On his part, the practice leader for Ovum’s Middle East and Africa regional research, Matthew Reed says that mobile broadband connections and financial services are key growth segments for the African continent.
Backing up his research, he said telco giant MTN recently reported that its financial services revenue grew by more than 30% over the past year with its data revenue soar from N56.7 billion to 79.9 billion in Q1 2020.
Reed also stated that the number of mobile subscriptions in general in Africa passed the 1 billion mark in 2017, and reached about 1.07 billion in June 2019, with a population penetration of 82.6%.
According to GSMA, almost half of the world’s population – 3.8 billion people – are using mobile internet. This continues to grow, with an additional 250 million people connecting in 2019.
However, GSMA noted that the growth in mobile internet adoption is slower compared to the growth in coverage. As a result, in 2019, 3.4 billion people who lived within the footprint of a network were not accessing mobile internet services. Those in low- and middle-income countries are disproportionately affected, and Covid-19 has reinforced the impacts of the digital divide, with the unconnected – who tend to be poorer, have lower levels of education and live in rural areas – less able to mitigate the economic and social disruptions to their lives.
While the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) latest statistics show active phone and internet users inch close to 200million respectfully, research points to growing mobile internet usage as good news for economic prosperity.
Mobile broadband connections