In 2018, mobile technologies and services generated $52 billion of economic value (8.7% of GDP) in West Africa, this is according to the GSMA’s Mobile Economy West Africa 2019 report released yesterday during its Mobile 360 West Africa event in Abidjan.
This figure is expected to reach almost $70 billion (9.5% of GDP) by 2023 as countries increasingly benefit from the improvements in productivity and efficiency brought about by increased take-up of mobile services.
By the end of 2018, there were 185 million unique mobile subscribers in West Africa, an increase of nearly 10 million over the previous year. Future growth will largely be driven by young consumers owning a mobile phone for the first time; more than 40% of the sub-region’s population are under 18 years old. A considerable proportion will become young adults over the next decade. By 2025, the number of unique subscribers will reach 248 million, taking the subscriber penetration rate to 54%, compared to 48% at the end of 2018.
The report also predicts that 3G will overtake 2G in 2019 to become the leading mobile technology in West Africa, accounting for 49% of total connections by the end of the year.
In view of the significant contribution of mobile technology and the activities of mobile ecosystem players to socioeconomic development in West Africa, governments and policymakers need to create and implement policies that can drive innovation and investments in new services and much-needed network infrastructure in under-served areas.
The mobile ecosystem directly employs around 200,000 people in West Africa, supports 800,000 jobs in the informal employment sector, and a further 600,000 jobs across the wider economy.
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