The mobile Internet services market in Africa is expected to grow by between 40% and 50% over the next two years due to the lack of sufficient fixed line infrastructure, coupled with a reduction in handset costs and service prices, as well as improved transmission speeds.
Analysts Frost & Sullivan sady that the emergence of mobile Internet as a preferred last mile connectivity solution is driving this uptake. The steady growth in mobile cellular services and the migration from 2G mobile technologies to 3G technologies creates a platform for deployment of mobile Internet services.
“The poor state of fixed line infrastructure is creating the potential for the African mobile Internet market to boom,” says Frost & Sullivan ICT Analyst Spiwe Chireka. “Mobile Internet has emerged as the solution to the continent’s last mile connectivity problem.”
Mobile Internet is significantly more cost-effective to deploy than fixed line services, is much cheaper and easier for users to acquire, covers a larger area and allows users access while they on the move.
However, the high cost of mobile Internet-compatible handsets, coupled with the pricing structure remains a significant challenge. Moreover, the majority of Africa’s population still finds these services too expensive to use.
Poor infrastructural development in some countries is also leading to some operators finding it hard to deploy mobile Internet services because of a lack of reliable electricity and inadequate road networks to access remote areas.
“Mobile Internet service providers need to form partnerships with cellular companies as well as technology and infrastructure providers to see how best they can provide cheaper or more affordable handsets that will provide good quality service,” says Chireka. “They should also form partnerships with governments across Africa and work out investment plans to improve telecommunications infrastructures so that deployment of such services is not limited.”