African countries with the highest number of mobile phones

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  • GSMA Intelligence’s report showed mobile phone subscribers stood at 46 per cent in Sub-Saharan Africa, while smartphone adoption was at 64 per cent
  • The data revealed that mobile technologies and services contributed over $130 billion (Sh 15.4 trillion) to the region’s economy (8 per cent of GDP) in 2021
  • GSMA predicts that Africa will have 120 million new mobile subscribers by 2025, taking the total number of subscribers to 615 million (50 per cent of the region’s population)
Data released by mobile industry insights company Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA) showed that by the end of 2021, 5.3 billion people had subscribed to mobile services, representing 67% of the global population.
The report indicated that there will be an additional 400 million new mobile subscribers by 2025, most of whom will be from frontier markets in the Asia Pacific and Sub-Saharan Africa.
This will take the total number of subscribers to 5.7 billion representing 70 per cent of the world’s population.

According to GSMA’s Mobile Economy Report Series, mobile technologies and services generated $4.5 trillion (Sh 532.4 trillion) of economic value in 2021.

Teenage girls browse on their mobile phones. Africa will have around 120 million new subscribers by 2025. Photo: Getty Images.

Mobile subscription in Africa

The survey showed mobile phone subscribers stood at 46 per cent in Sub-Saharan Africa, while smartphone adoption was at 64 per cent. This is expected to grow to 50 per cent and 75 per cent respectively by 2025.
“By the end of 2020, 495 million people subscribed to mobile services in Sub-Saharan Africa, representing 46 per cent of the region’s population – an increase of almost 20 million from 2019.
With more than 40 per cent of the region’s population under the age of 15, young consumers owning a mobile phone for the first time will remain the primary source of growth for the foreseeable future. There will be around 120 million new subscribers by 2025, taking the total number of subscribers to 615 million (50 per cent of the region’s population),” the report stated.
The data revealed that mobile technologies and services contributed over $130 billion (Sh 15.4 trillion) to the region’s economy (8 per cent of GDP) in 2021.

List of African countries with the highest number of mobile phones

1. Nigeria

Nigeria boasted 199.6 million mobile connections as of March 2022, according to the West African country’s Communication Commission (NCC).
The 2022 first-quarter report by NCC showed that 2.1 million new telephone lines were added to its networks during the period.
Telephone connections per 100 people stood at 104.5 per cent between January and March 2022.
According to GSMA, Nigeria tops Africa in smartphone connections with 163 million.

2. South Africa

GSMA Intelligence data showed that there were 108.6 million cellular mobile connections in South Africa at the start of 2022, equivalent to 179.8 per cent of its population.
The report indicated mobile connections increased by 4.8 million (4.6 per cent) between 2021 and 2022.
Its internet penetration, on the other hand, stood at 68.2 per cent, with over 89 million smartphone users.

Between 2021 and 2022, it was reported that 19.2 million people in the country remained offline, representing 31.8 per cent.

Vodacom is the leading mobile leader in South Africa. Photo: Mobile World Live.

3. Egypt

The north eastern African country had 98.29 million mobile users during the first quarter of 2022, representing 93.4 per cent of the population.
Between 2021 and 2022, mobile connections increased by 1.9 per cent. The country’s internet penetration rate stood at 71.9 per cent (75.66 million) during the period under review.

4. Kenya

As of March 31, 2022, the number of active1 mobile (SIM) subscriptions in Kenya stood at 64.9 million. This was a drop from 65.1 million subscriptions recorded by the end of December 31, 2021.
The subscriptions represent a mobile (SIM) penetration rate of 131.4%.
“The decline in SIM subscriptions is partly attributed to the ongoing SIM registration exercise during which a number of SIM cards have been deactivated,” the report stated.
During the period under review from January to March 2022, mobile penetration dropped by 2.5 per cent attributed to the review of the country’s population figures from 48.7 million to 49.4 million as per the Economic Survey 2022.

GSMA report ranked Kenya as the third country with the highest number of smartphone connections at 52 million, behind Nigeria and South Africa.

Kenya’s mobile penetration rate stands at over 131%. Photo: Fortune.com.

5. Ethiopia

Ethiopia recorded 58.54 million cellular mobile connections at the start of 2022 equivalent to 49.1 per cent of its population.
Between 2021 and 2022, mobile connections in the country increased by 9.4 million (19.2 per cent).
With 29.83 million users, it still lags behind in internet penetration rate at 25 per cent.

6. Tanzania

At the beginning of 2022, the East African country boasted 53.81 million mobile connections.
With its population standing at 62.39 million, this meant that 86.2 per cent of its population had access to mobile phones.
Tanzania had 15.6 million internet users during the period indicating that over 75% of the population had been left in the dark.

7. Morocco

Statista.com reported that Morocco registered approximately 48.6 million mobile connections in January 2022, up from 43.35 million in 2021.
The number corresponded to 129.3% of the country’s total population, indicating some citizens have multiple connections.

8. Algeria

 There were 46.57 million mobile connections in Algeria at the start of 2022, according to data by GSMA Intelligence.
The report noted that the mobile penetration rate is equivalent to 103.5 per cent of the population.
“The number of mobile connections in Algeria increased by 936,000  (+2.1 per cent) between 2021 and 2022,” it stated.
Algeria boasts 26.6 million internet users (59.1 per cent).

9. Ghana

Ghana is one of Africa’s largest mobile markets. It had 44.9 million cellular mobile connections at the start of 2022.
In January 2022, mobile connections in Ghana were equivalent to 140 per cent of its population of 32 million people.
Between 2021 and January 2022, mobile connections in the country increased by 2.6 million (+6.2 per cent). During the period under review, the country had 16.99 million internet users (53 per cent).

10. Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

The Democratic Republic of Congo, which has been admitted to the East African Community (EAC), had 43.95 million cellular mobile connections at the start of the year.
Between 2021 and 2022, the DRC registered 3.6 million new mobile users representing 8.9 per cent.
“There were 16.5 million internet users in the DRC in January 2022. The DRC’s internet penetration rate stood at 17.6 per cent of the total population at the start of 2022,” the report stated.

11.  Uganda

Kenya’s neighbour to the west, Uganda, had 27.67 million cellular mobile connections in the first quarter of 2022.
Data by GSMA Intelligence revealed that as mobile subscriptions in other African countries rose, Uganda’s declined by 698,000 (-2.5 per cent) between 2021 and 2022.
Uganda’s internet penetration rate stood at 29.1 per cent of its 47.7 million population at the start of 2022.
The land-locked country had 13.92 million internet users in January 2022, this was an increase of 1.8 million compared to the same period in 2021.

READ: Internet Society seeks expanded Internet access in Africa

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