A research conducted by Informa Telecom and Media has shown that Africa's active mobile phone subscribers have crossed the half-a-billion mark in the third quarter of 2010.
According to the research, there are about 506 million telecom subscribers across the African continent as of September 2010. At the end of the 2010 third quarter, Africa accounted for 10 per cent of the world's mobile subscriptions and was one of the world's fastest-growing regions in terms of telecommunications.
Subscription numbers increased to 18 per cent over the year - as a result of demand for new services, such as mobile Internet access, which increased the need for telecoms connectivity.

Segment growth
Mr Thecla Mbongue, a Johannesburg-based senior analyst at Informa Telecoms and Media said: "Although the rate of growth in mobile subscriptions in Africa will slow as markets mature, the continent continues to offer great opportunities for investors in the voice segment and also in the non-voice segments with mobile broadband and mobile-money services taking off."
"By 2015, there will be 265 million mobile broadband subscriptions in Africa, a huge increase from the current figure of about 12 million, and accounting for 31.5 per cent of the total of 842 million mobile subscriptions that the continent will have in five years' time," the survey indicates.
There will be almost 360 million users of mobile-money services on the continent by 2014. The research survey further exposed that the mobile revolution that has swept through Africa has made mobile telephone widely available but there are still substantial under-served markets.
The landing of a series of new submarine cables on both the East and West coasts of Africa over the past 18 months has given the continent a good level of international connectivity for the first time, and has greatly expanded the opportunities for data services.
It was however, advised that since the terrestrial backhaul threatens to become the next bottle-neck, it must be extended if the benefits of the new connectivity are to be made widely available. This, in particular should be made to reach rural communities and countries in the interior of the continent.
The findings further stated that the rate of household broadband penetration in Africa was just 2.5 per cent in the first quarter of 2010, so African broadband has a long way to go if it is to emulate the mobile revolution that has already swept through much of the continent.
"The past year has seen a big change in the line-up of key players in the African mobile market, with the sale of Zain Africa - one of the biggest pan-African players with 15 operations on the continent - to Bharti Airtel of India," the research said.
SOURCE: allAfrica.com


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