Sub-Saharan Africa has world’s lowest smartphone adoption

A new GSMA Intelligence Report on global smartphone connections said the rate at which smartphones are being adopted in sub-Sahara Africa is only 15 per cent, which is the lowest worldwide.

The Report titled “Smartphone forecasts and assumptions, 2007-2020″ found that smartphones account for one in three mobile connections today, representing more than 2 billion mobile connections.

It also noted that the number of smartphone connections will grow three-fold over the next six years to reach 6 billion by 2020, and that would be driven largely by a boost in smartphone connections in the developing world and expansion of mobile broadband access.

Despite the projected growth of the global smartphone market, sub-Saharan Africa still lags behind when it comes to smartphone connections.

According to GSMA, sub- Saharan Africa’s smartphone adoption rate is currently 15 per cent. This is the lowest rate worldwide in terms of smartphone adoption now, but the GSMA is optimistic about sub-Saharan Africa as it expects to see changes over the next few years.

“Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to be the fastest-growing smartphone region over the next six years as affordable devices become more widely available and mobile broadband networks are deployed across Africa,” the GSMA report states.

The GSMA further predicted that by 2020, four out of every five-smartphone connection worldwide would come from the developing world.

Affordable Smartphones

The Report also pointed out that the main factors driving smartphone adoption in the developing world are affordability, subsidies by telecoms operators and data packages that telecom operators offer.

The GSMA Intelligence is confident that moving forward, those three factors and others would be the main drivers of increased smartphone adoption in the developing world, and eventually place the developing world way ahead of the developed world in terms of smartphone adoption.

Indeed, the report noted that the developing world passed the developed world in smartphone connections in 2013 on the back of affordable smartphone and it has since been leading.

In Ghana, for instance, some telecom operators have reported increased data consumption and revenues on their respective networks on the back of affordable smartphones.

MTN Ghana has said data consumption increased on its network after it introduced a number of affordable smartphones like Huawei Ascend Y210, Ascend Y220 and one of Tecno’s Phantom series among others.

Meanwhile, affordable smartphone dealer, Tecno Ghana is also introducing yet another affordable smartphone, Tecno Phantom Z unto the market, and promises data packages across networks in Ghana. Industry watchers believe that would shore up smartphone connection in Ghana and also drive internet penetration.

“The smartphone has sparked a wave of global innovation that has brought new services to millions and efficiencies to businesses of every type,” the report quoted Hyunmi Yang, Chief Strategy Officer at the GSMA as saying.

“As the study shows, smartphones will be the driving force of mobile industry growth over the next six years, with one billion new smartphone connections expected over the next 18 months alone,” Yang explained.

According to the report, Asia Pacific today accounts for about half of global smartphone connections, even though smartphone penetration in the region is currently calculated at below 40 per cent. The Asia Pacific total is boosted by the inclusion of China, the world’s largest smartphone market, with more than 629 million smartphone connections, states the GSMA report.

Below is a list of the GSMA’s top 10 countries with the highest smartphone connections as of Q2 in 2014:

Country                                  Smartphone connections (millions) 

China     –                             629.2
USA       –                            196.8
Brazil      –                            141.8
India        –                          111.0
Indonesia    –                      95.0
Russian Federation  –           83.9
Japan             –                    66.1
Germany    –                        48.5
United Kingdom     –            45.4
France             –                 43.5
The GSMA represents the interests of nearly 800 mobile operators worldwide and 250 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, spanning more than 220 countries.

Companies with the GSMA include handset and device makers, software companies, equipment providers and Internet companies, as well as organizations in industry sectors such as financial services, healthcare, media, transport and utilities.

The GSMA also produces industry-leading events such as Mobile World Congress and Mobile Asia Expo. Story by Ghana|Adom Business|Samuel Nii Narku Dowuona/[email protected]

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