Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania have benefitted from exponential mobile content growth in Swahili with the number of mobile apps in the language increasing to almost 30,000 from around 5,000 in 2014.
In Kenya, more than 4 million people connected to the mobile internet between 2014 and 2017, increasing adoption from 16 per cent to 24 per cent.
According to The Mobile Economy 2019 report by GSMA, this growth was due to performance on two enablers: infrastructure and affordability.
The former was driven by improved network coverage, with 3G increasing from 67 per cent in 2014 to 85 per cent in 2017, and 4G reaching more than a third of the population.
Network quality was enhanced, notably in terms of latency.
The country also improved the enabling infrastructure that supports mobile connectivity: more than half the population now have access to electricity, compared to around 30 per cent in 2014.
Kenya has also established additional Internet Exchange Points and the affordability of mobile data baskets has improved.
The new GSMA report indicates that there are four key areas where Tanzania’s mobile industry is making a significant contribution to the country’s transformation into a digital economy and realisation of its development goals.
These include access to key services, driving productivity and efficiency, contribution to economic growth and social development and encouraging good governance.
Content remains king as operators capitalise on evolution
Shifting consumer behaviour, new players and changing content production and distribution models mean that mobile players will have to innovate to not be left behind.
The consumption of digital content, particularly video, is growing in most markets around the world, and mobile is a key driver.
Findings in the report show that the number of people regularly watching video on their devices, as well as the average time spent and frequency, are increasing globally.
“To benefit from this unprecedented level of content consumption, a growing number of telecoms operators are entering the content space or strengthening their existing content offerings,” says the report.
Pay-TV and adjacent markets
As telcos face slowing revenue growth in their core mobile and fixed markets, they are therefore looking for opportunities in adjacent markets.
Pay-TV is a clear opportunity, as it is the most adjacent market to telecoms where the addressable market and distribution and pricing schemes are the same.
To reduce subscriber loss and to attract premium customers, content addresses these different operator needs and is therefore seen as a natural next move for telecoms operators.
“There are various potential routes to content, ranging from vertical integration to partnerships with OTT video service providers. These routes are not mutually exclusive – for many, the content strategy chosen will be a combination of routes,” adds the report.
New mobile subscribers decrease
By the end of 2018, 5.1 billion people around the world had subscribed to mobile services, accounting for 67 per cent of the global population.
A total of 1 billion new subscribers have been added in the four years since 2013 (representing an average annual growth rate of 5 per cent), but the speed of growth is slowing.
An average annual growth rate of 1.9 per cent between 2018 and 2025 will bring the total number of mobile subscribers to 5.8 billion which is 71 per cent of the population.
Less than a quarter of the 710 million people expected to subscribe to mobile services for the first time over the next seven years will come from Sub-Saharan Africa.
Half of these will come from the Asia Pacific region.
Mobile contribution to socio-economic development
In 2018, mobile technologies and services generated USD 3.9 trillion which is 4.6 per cent of GDP globally. This contribution will reach USD 4.8 trillion making up 4.8 per cent of GDP globally by 2023.
“The connectivity gap also continues to close: over the next seven years, 1.4 billion people will start using the mobile internet for the first time, bringing the total number of mobile internet subscribers globally to 5 billion by 2025,” adds the report.
This growth in connectivity is helping the mobile industry increase its impact across all the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and is spurring adoption of mobile-based tools and solutions (for example, in agriculture, education and healthcare) that aim to improve livelihoods in low- to middle-income countries.
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