Africa is the fastest growing mobile phone market in the world, according to a report released Wednesday by an industry group.
The continent has more than 649 million mobile phone users which is expected to jump to 738 million by the end of 2012, the report by Groupe Speciale Mobile Association said. The subscriber growth rate across Africa has jumped by 30 percent each consecutive year for the past 10 years.
The surge in mobile phone communication in developing countries are seen as a cue for economic growth, according to the Associated Press. GSMA says that there is a 0.81 pecent increase in GDP for every 10 percent increase in mobile penetration, citing studies by the World Bank and others.
The telecommunications industry is looking to expand Africa’s data infrastructure by creating its first commercial 4G or long-term evolution (LTE) network, Reuters reported.
"It's a very hot topic on the agenda, the question is who will be the first one out and in what market. We are talking with all these guys, that's all I can say at this time," Lars Linden, head of Ericsson in sub-Saharan Africa told Reuters. The technology could come as early as 2012 in hot spots that have high demand for fast connectivity.
A combination of price wars between telecommunication providers and tax cuts on mobile phone products have made affordability easier over the past years. Kenya scrapped its 16% general sales tax on mobile handsets in 2009 which resulted in handset purchases increasing by more than 200%, according to the GSMA report.