The Mobile Economy West Africa 2018

Mobile adoption on the rise. Mobile adoption has grown rapidly in West Africa in recent years, helped by the expansion of mobile networks to underserved communities and the increasing affordability of services and device costs. By the end of 2017, there were 176 million unique subscribers across the West Africa sub-region, comprising the 15 member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Overall subscriber penetration reached 47% in 2017, up from 28% at the start of this decade. Despite the remarkable subscriber growth in the sub-region in recent years, and indeed across Sub-Saharan Africa, more than half of the region’s population do not yet subscribe to a mobile service.

Subscriber growth will be driven by a demographic shift in the coming years, as many young adults take out a mobile subscription. Over the period to 2025, around 72 million new mobile subscribers will be added in West Africa, taking subscriber penetration to 54%. The transition to mobile broadband is gaining momentum across West Africa. 3G remains the dominant mobile broadband technology, but 4G adoption is rising rapidly from network expansion and greater availability of 4G devices. The number of smartphone connections has more than doubled over the last two years to reach 112 million, accounting for 35% of total connections on average at the end of 2017.

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