Africa’s mobile economy in numbers

Here are some estimates of the growth potential of the mobile economy in sub-Saharan Africa, according to industry association GSMA. The GSMA report The Mobile Economy Sub-Saharan Africa was published Sept 2021 with figures up to December 2020.

  • By end of 2020, 495m people were subscribed to mobile services in Sub-Saharan Africa, 46% of the population and up 20% on 2019.
  • Primary source of growth in new users is young people owning a mobile phone for the first time, as 40% of population are under 15 years old.
  • It is estimated there will be 120m new subscribers by 2025 to 615m (share of population 50%). This is 4.4% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over 2020-2025. Out of the new subscribers, 22m will be in Nigeria and 15m will be in Ethiopia.
  • SIM Connections will rise from 930m in 2020 to 1.12bn by 2025, which is CAGR 4.8%
  • Mobile internet: In 2020,  303m were connected to mobile internet (28% of the population), and the estimate is there will be 170m more by 2025 (40% of the population) to 474m, CAGR 9.3%.
  • Mobile technologies and services generated over $130bn (8% of GDP) and this will be $155bn by 2025.
  • Transactions on mobile money platforms were $490bn end 2020.
  • The mobile sector makes $15bn contribution to public funding, before regulatory and spectrum fees
  • The mobile ecosystem supported 300,000 formal jobs, plus 1.1m informal jobs.
  • Total revenues from mobile phone industry were $44.2bn in 2020, and are forecast to rise to $56.2bn in 2025, assuming operator capex of $45bn over 2020-2025.
  • Smartphones were 48% of connections in 2020, rising to 64% by 2025. Top three markets in 2025 will be Nigeria (163m smartphones, South Africa 89m and Kenya 52m)
  • Mobile data traffic (GB per subscriber per month) to rise more than fourfold (4.1x) from 2.2 to 9.0 by 2026.


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