× Digital News Videos Health & Science Opinion Education Columnists Lifestyle Cartoons Moi Cabinets Kibaki Cabinets Arts & Culture Gender Podcasts E-Paper Tributes Lifestyle & Entertainment Nairobian Entertainment Eve Woman TV Stations KTN Home KTN News BTV KTN Farmers TV Radio Stations Radio Maisha Spice FM Vybez Radio Enterprise VAS E-Learning Digger Classified Jobs Games Crosswords Sudoku The Standard Group Corporate Contact Us Rate Card Vacancies DCX O.M Portal Corporate Email RMS

Mobile phone access in Africa set to double in next five years

By Reuters | June 4th 2015


 Eighty percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s 800 million people should have access to mobile telephones by the end of the decade, double the current rate, although government help is needed to reach far-flung areas, industry body group GSMA said on Wednesday.

The growth of mobile data - an even more powerful economic tool than simple voice services - also hinges on authorities allocating sufficient spectrum, said Mortimer Hope, the Africa director of GSMA.

"We expect data to keep growing dramatically, and to facilitate that you need more spectrum to handle that data growth," he told Reuters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum Africa in Cape Town.

To unleash the full potential of mobile Internet services, he said, governments should also consider cutting taxes on web-enabled handsets to make them more affordable to consumers on the poorest continent.

At the moment about 15 percent of Africans have access to the Internet via their mobile phones.

"It's very early days for data but we would like it be everywhere you have voice. The extra physical infrastructure deployment is not as big as you would think."

Mobile phones have been one of the factors behind Africa's recent growth spurt, by freeing people from the shackles of the continent's awful landline infrastructure and allowing them to communicate and transact at minimal personal and financial cost.

The simple SMS - and more recently mobile social media - have also become powerful political tools, used by grassroots political movements to mobilize support against oppressive states, such as happened in the North African 'Arab Spring'.

Governments across the continent are aware of the economic potential of mobile telephony but are sometimes slow to implement the legal frameworks needed to allow phone companies to expand, Mortimer said.

"Many governments across Africa have developed broadband plans. The issue is that those plans very often just sit on a shelf, not being implemented," he said.

Africa's biggest mobile phone company is Johannesburg-based MTN (MTNJ.J). Other major operators are South Africa's Vodacom (VODJ.J) and France's Orange (ORAN.PA).

Share this story
Woman who slept with 14-year old boy in a school bus sentenced to three years in jail
Caroline Salisbury, 28, wept as her two-year suspended sentence was thrown out and replaced with three-years imprisonment.
Opening Ceremony: Kenya takes her pride of place as 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games begin
Team Kenya Paralympics strolled majestically into the Tokyo Olympic Stadium led by captain Rodgers Kiprop and Powerlifter Hellen Wawira for the Openin