The country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) should be increased by an additional $1.5 billion in the digital dividend with the necessary spectrum allocations.
Peter Lyons, GSMA Director of Spectrum Policy for Africa and the Middle East, says mobile operators in Ghana would need sufficient spectrum and he is optimistic “when the analogue television switch off is completed, then additional spectrum will be free for mobile broadband in the digital dividend”.
He however says government will have to ensure the switch “happens one time and efficiently and the spectrum is available for all mobile broadband as soon as possible”.
The GSMA sub-Saharan Africa Mobile Observatory has revealed that sub-Saharan Africa is the fastest-growing mobile market in the world, with a phenomenal average annual growth rate of 44 per cent since 2000, based on research from Deloitte.
“The growth continues because people need to communicate and increasingly people need to use the internet, so we expect mobile broadband to grow about 46% a year from 2012 to 2015”, Lyons said.
The five key markets in the African region – Nigeria, Tanzania, South Africa, Kenya and Ghana – have over the past five years recorded $16.5 billion in investments, mainly towards the expansion of network capacity.
The GSMA Spokesperson however says “governments need to make sure there is enough spectrum available and they need to make sure they are not over-taxing the sector for short term budgetary gains but they are looking longer-term job creation and GDP growth”.
The mobile industry growth in the African key markets could generate a GDP increase of $40 billion and create almost 15million jobs.
“Mobile has already revolutionised African society and yet demand still continues to grow by almost 50 per cent a year,” said Tom Phillips, Chief Government and Regulatory Affairs Officer, GSMA.
“To create an environment that supports and encourages this immense growth, it is imperative that governments work in partnership with mobile operators to enable the industry to thrive throughout the region, ultimately providing affordable options to connect its citizens.”
The region has some of the highest levels of mobile internet usage globally. In Zimbabwe and Nigeria, mobile accounts for over half of all web traffic at 58.1 per cent and 57.9 per cent respectively, compared to a 10 per cent global average. 3G penetration levels are forecast to grow by 46 per cent through 2016 as the use of mobile-specific services develops.
Today, there are more than 80 mobile money operations for the unbanked across Africa compared to 36 in Asia, the second most popular region for these services.
Phillips noted that “tackling stifling regulation, addressing high taxation and implementing a harmonised approach to future spectrum allocation will further boost the success story of mobile across the continent. There is not only the potential to lift millions out of poverty, but also the opportunity to ensure that Africa benefits from global economies of scale in terms of both network technology and mobile devices.”
Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh