Mobile is Moving Africa
Growth opportunity on the “plateau continent”
These are exciting times for the mobile industry. Estimates at the time of this writing indicate that the industry is currently adding one billion mobile connections every 18 months worldwide, 40% of which are 3G; meaning that total connections are on track to reach six billion in the first half of 2012. Emerging markets such as Africa – often referred to as the plateau continent – represent a tremendous growth opportunity as they transition from 2G to 3G (EV-DO and UMTS900/HSPA+), which offers voice and data services at lower cost and with better performance. In the first quarter of 2010, Informa Telecoms & Media reported that by 2012, emerging markets are expected to represent 50% of 3G handset shipments worldwide. Growth of the African mobile market has been driven by the continent’s historical lack of fixed-line infrastructure for voice or data, essentially making mobile service the default means for voice communication and Internet access. The completion of a second deep-sea communications cable should also help drive down the cost of data and accelerate mobile data consumption.
The bottom line: improving the quality of life
While the revenue opportunities offer significant potential for mobile industry players in Africa, what’s really remarkable about mobile technologies in Africa goes far beyond the economics – it’s mobile’s ability to transform lives. Beyond voice calls, mobile phones can help Africans do any number of extraordinary things: improve access to news and information, expose schoolchildren to better learning opportunities, remind the elderly to take their medication… even track market prices for fishermen and farmers, ensuring that they get the best prices for their goods. The fact is, for many people in Africa, their first and only access to telephone services and computing capabilities is going to be through a mobile phone. If that’s not inspiring, consider the point from a macro perspective. Mobile networks, particularly 3G communications networks, are critical infrastructure in developing countries across Africa, and these networks are now a major factor in driving substantial economic growth and socioeconomic progress. A 2009 World Bank Information and Communications for Development report showed that wireless connectivity matters: a 10% increase in mobile phone penetration results in an increase of .81% in per capita GDP and a 10% increase in Internet/broadband penetration results in an increase of 1.38% in GDP.
Making mobile more accessible and affordable for all
One might conclude that mobile technologies offer Africa a lot of potential, but how can a rural African citizen, one who might live on $2 (USD) a day, afford a mobile phone? Qualcomm and its many partners are working continuously to develop solutions that lower the barrier to entry for the everyday consumer. For instance, Qualcomm’s “system-ona- chip” single-chip solutions and turnkey reference designs are not only making mobile phones more power efficient and reliable, but also more cost-effective to build and less time consuming to bring to market. The cost benefits realized by device manufacturers are ultimately passed on to consumers through the availability of more device choices at more affordable prices. Ultimately, efforts like these are bringing down the average selling price of mobile phones, allowing more and more Africans – particularly those in the underserved communities – to discover and benefit from the mobile phone.
The future depends on us
What’s on the horizon for mobile is limited only by the imaginations of key industry players – device manufacturers, network operators, app developers and content publishers – as well new market entrants who have the vision to apply wireless in a nearly infinite number of non-traditional ways. Regardless, Qualcomm will be there to help bring to fruition Jing Wang Senior Vice President and Chairman, Qualcomm Asia Pacific the big ideas and solutions that make a difference in Africa and accelerate mobility around the world.