East Africa to rev up mobile broadband users to 186 million

Mobile data is taking root in East African telecom markets and according to specialist telecom research company Ovum there will be 112 million mobile broadband subscribers in the region’s three leading markets of Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda in the next five years.

This is backed by intensive investment projects, rising data penetration and growing uptake of smartphones for e-commerce.

“Mobile data will be the key growth driver for the East African telecoms market in the next five years to 2022” Ovum said in its new Forecaster data service. It predicted the total number of mobile subscribers across the entire region will peak at 186 million by 2022.

According to Ovum growth in mobile broadband uptake will be underpinned by “increased deployment and upgrade of 3G and 4G LTE networks” as well as “a rise in smartphone penetration” due to improved affordability.

In Kenya, “the vast majority of broadband subscribers are on mobile networks,” said ICT and telecommunications industry analyst Nirav Gokani in a post on theexpertconsulting.com. “Mobile network operators in Kenya are concentrating investments on LTE, so enabling customers to take up a range of high-end data services and applications. A range of services including video streaming, e-commerce, e-learning and e-government are evolving rapidly on the back of this improved infrastructure.”

The digital transformation of economic activities in the region, especially in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda has also resulted in a “sharp rise in demand for broadband services” from consumers, added Ovum.

“The East African region has made great progress in broadband connectivity over the last few years, and this has unlocked great potential in digital services segment, including mobile financial services, digital media as well as enterprise services,” said Danson Njue, research analyst for Africa at Ovum. “The growth in broadband connectivity has also seen a rise in OTT services thereby increasing chances of data revenue cannibalisation for data service providers in the region.”

Airtel Kenya has played catch up with other operators, saying this month it was rolling out LTE coverage for its mobile internet subscribers.

Intelsat said this month it would partner with mobile operators in Uganda, including MTN, to deploy 3G internet solutions to bolster the provision of data services to rural mobile subscribers, and thereby boost mobile internet subscriptions.

Gordon Kyomukama, Chief Technical Officer at MTN Uganda said earlier this month in a news release that as “part of our dual data strategy” the telco was seeking “new and innovative methods to efficiently expand our network to rural areas” in the country.

On the back of such developments, Ovum now forecasts that there will be 32 million LTE subscriptions in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda by 2022 while smartphone connections are expected to rise to 108 million over the same period.

Source: IT Web Africa