Africa’s mobile broadband subscribers top 172mn

Telecoms

Africa's mobile broadband subscriptions have reached 172 million. This is according to the 2014 edition of the State of Broadband report, which has been compiled by the Broadband Commission. The report features country-by-country rankings based on access and affordability for over 160 economies worldwide.

The Broadband Commission was launched in 2010 by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

And the study notes that Africa represents 8% of the geographical distribution of mobile broadband subscriptions across the globe.

The ITU defines mobile broadband as access to data communications (the internet) at broadband downstream speeds greater than or equal to 256 kbit/s (kilobit per second).

"Mobile broadband (3G and 4G) continues to show the highest growth rate of any ICT, growing almost 20% during 2014," reads the report, referring to the global boom in this space.

The report further says that in light of 6.9 billion mobile cellular subscriptions worldwide by the end of 2014, there will be 2.3 billion mobile broadband subscriptions. And smartphones account for between a quarter and a third of all mobile broadband subscriptions, notes the report.

According to the IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, the Middle East and Africa region alone shipped around 140 million smartphones, which cost less than $100.

ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun I. Touré said, "Broadband uptake is accelerating, but it is unacceptable that 90% of people in the world’s 48 Least Developed Countries remain totally unconnected."

"With broadband internet now universally recognised as a vital tool for social and economic development, we need to make connectivity a key development priority, particularly in the world’s poorest nations. Connectivity is not a luxury for the rich – rather, it is the most powerful tool mankind has ever had at its disposal..." Touré added.

Meanwhile, the status of the African continent's fixed broadband subscriptions have continued to shrink.

According to the Broadband Commission report Africa has 3 million fixed broadband subscriptions, which represents 0.5% of the world's fixed subscriptions. 

However, despite predictions that global fixed broadband subscriptions will rise to 711 million by the end of 2014, it is noted that fixed broadband growth may be flattening out globally in terms of subscriptions.

Source: ITWeb 29 September 2014