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Africa Has More Mobile Subscribers than the US or European Union

By Aaron Mason on January 2, 2013

With more than 650 million subscribers, the World Bank is reporting that Africa’s mobile phone market is now bigger than either the US or the EU. Up from just 9.4M subscribers in 2000, this represents a 40-fold increase over the past 11 years, making the market second only to Asia in terms of pure scale.

Mobile phone vs. fixed line subscriptions in Africa, 2000-2011, World Bank

This can only be seen as a boon to African economies, which are set to benefit tremendously from the rush to mobile. As the World Bank notes in a recent report on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Africa (PDF):

Over the previous 25 years, a 10% increase in the penetration rate of mobile phones had been associated with a 0.8% boost in GDP per capita in developing countries, while the same increase in broadband networks could add a further 1.4% to general economic growth.

These numbers get even more interesting when you consider that these gains were seen when exposing groups to just one of the technologies: mobile or broadband. With African economies experiencing first-time exposure to multiple technologies at the same time, we can only wait to see if access to mobile broadband will provide even greater rewards than mobile and broadband separately.

Filed Under: Connectivity

Written by
Aaron Mason is a technology and development expert with experience in design, analytics, ICT and disaster response. Follow him on Twitter: @Aaron_Mason
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