THE widespread usage of digital technology in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is an essential phenomenon that fosters productivity in the digital economy and integrates markets in the region.
In the last quarter of 2018, SSA was home to 456 million unique mobile subscribers – representing an increase of 20 million subscribers over the previous year.
Projections from the GSMA Intelligence report for 2019 suggest that by 2025, there will be more than 600 million mobile subscribers in the region, thus about 50 PER CENT of the total population in SSA will be connected.
With a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 4.6 per cent and an additional 167 million mobile subscribers from now to 2025, SSA continues to be the fastest growing region in the world. The hotspots for the fastest growth levels from the period to 2025 will be in Nigeria and Ethiopia – accounting for growth rates of 19 per cent and 11 per cent, respectively.
The total number of smartphone connections in SSA had also increased to 302 million in 2018 with smartphone connections in the area expected to reach 700 million by 2025 – this will represent smartphone adoption rate of 66 per cent.
The effective usage of digital technology improves productivity and stimulates economic growth in SSA – in 2018, the use of mobile technologies and services generated an economic value of $144 billion, accounting for 8.6 per cent of SSA’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The mobile ecosystem played a pivotal role by supporting close to 3.5 million jobs directly and indirectly – in all, $15.6 billion was raised via taxes which proved to be a major financial resource for funding the public sector. According to GSMA Intelligence, by 2023, mobile technologies and services will account for 9.1 per cent of GDP, thus about $185 billion.