The first GSMA Mobile Observatory report to focus on Africa has come back with some fascinating conclusions. First among them, Africa has passed Latin America to become the world's second largest mobile market.

The global mobile association examined the 25 African countries that account for 91% of mobile use (calling them the "A25"). Here are some of the most interesting of the report's conclusions.

The report "integrates data from a wide range of existing sources to provide a comprehensive picture of the African mobile industry. These include public sources such as the ITU, World Bank and research by National Regulatory Authorities as well as commercial providers such as Wireless Intelligence, Informa, Gartner, Buddecomm and ID."

  • Africa now has 620 million mobile connections, passing Latin America
  • Regional penetration has risen from 2% in 2000, to 57% this year
  • Over the last decade, the number of mobile connections has grown an average of 30% per year, forecast to reach 735 million by the end of next year
  • Mobile provides 3.5% of African GDP
  • Highly competetive sector has resulted in price decreases of up to 60% in some areas, with an overall average of 18% decrease in the last year
  • 96% of is pre-paid with voice services currently dominating, however data is increasing rapidly - Kenya data revenues, for instance, including SMS, have increased at a 67% annual growth over the last 4 years, representing 26% of total revenues in that country

The report's authors conclude in part:

"As governments consider policy levers to develop their economies and societies, they must consider the mobile industry as an enabler of development beyond its immediate means. Investing in, and creating the conditions for greater involvement in the mobile industry will drive economic development far beyond its direct domain"

You can download the report here (PDF).

Other sources: iHub, MobileActive