Sunday, October 28, 2007

"Connect Africa" Draws Promise of Large Investments from Leading Mobile Operators

At the Connect Africa summit, an ITU event being hosted by the government of Rwanda, leading global mobile operators announced plans to invest more than $50 billion in sub-Saharan Africa over the next five years. The goal is to provide more than 90% of the population with mobile coverage by extending the reach of GSM mobile networks and enhancing the services with GPRS, EDGE and HSPA technologies.

According to the GSM Association, there are more than 150 million mobile subscribers in sub-Saharan Africa today. However, a further 350 million people have mobile coverage and are not yet directly connected. As well as extending coverage, the mobile industry is focused on using its economies of scale to connect these people. As the number of users grows, so too will economic prosperity.

The GSMA estimates that an increase of 10 percentage points in mobile penetration can increase the annual growth rate of GDP by up to 1.2 percentage points.

Since sub-Saharan governments began liberalizing their telecommunication sectors at the turn of the millennium, the GSMA estimates that the mobile industry has invested $35 billion, providing more than 500 million people (67% of the population) in sub-Saharan Africa with mobile coverage.

MTN, Orange, Vodacom and Zain subsidiary Celtel are among the mobile operators planning to invest heavily in the expansion and enhancement of their networks.

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