Things are looking optimistic for Africa’s mobile economy, according to the latest Mobile Economy 2023 report, released by the Global System Operators and Manufacturers Association (GSMA).

The report projects sub-Saharan Africa as being one of the global regions that will see the biggest increase in smartphone adoption by the end of this year, reaching 87% by 2030, up from 51% in 2022. By the end of the decade, sub-Saharan Africa and India will account for nearly half of the world’s new mobile subscribers.

“The rising youth population in Africa has a lot to do with this, along with more competitive pricing in the mobile sector,” says Kegan Peffer, CEO of Adoozy Power, which offers mobile power banks for rent across South Africa. A market that is forecasted to expand with more than 600-million mobile power bank users over the next five years.

Further to this, the report indicates that the mobile data traffic per mobile in Africa will nearly quadruple, with a 3,9-time increase by 2028, growing from 4,6 GB (gigabytes) per user per month to 18 GB.

“Smartphone usage is no longer just about staying connected. It is now an integral part of the way we work, shop, manage our finances, and socialise. More importantly, mobile is committed to changing our lives for the better. As the first sector to commit to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2016, the mobile industry is currently achieving 53% of what it can contribute to these goals, placing a major focus on digital inclusion and innovation, says Peffer.

5G will massively increase connectivity for businesses and consumers

In looking at improving mobile access and connectivity, the GSMA also forecasts that 5G connections are expected to double over the next two years, with deployments rolling out in more than 30 countries in 2023 alone. And the Mobile Economy report indicates that in sub-Saharan Africa, the number of 5G subscriptions is expected to reach 213-million in 2030.

CEO of Cape Town-based IT company Innovo Networks, Damian Michael, says that the sooner 5G rollout in Africa can take off, the better it will be for business and post-pandemic recovery. “At the moment, fibre connections are the most reliable for both consumers and businesses, but when 5G Wireless networks and fibre option networks can work together to support connectivity, it’s going to open up a holistic communication system that will improve reliability and affordability for South African businesses as well as citizens. Despite delays in infrastructure capabilities, it’s encouraging to see Africa heading in the right direction.”

Other benefits of 5G will include the positive socioeconomic impact. Areas said to benefit the most include education, healthcare, fintech, and climate change, and by 2030, 5G technology could contribute about $26-billion to the continent’s economy.

Africa’s electricity crisis fuelling innovation in mobile power

With growing smartphone adoption, increasing sales of mobile devices, gadgets, and wearable devices, consumers’ demand for power is growing. ” At this point in time, smartphone battery technology has not been able to keep up with the processing power required to drive today’s advanced smartphones. Add to this South Africa’s electricity crisis, and it’s becoming critical for South Africans to find alternative power solutions to stay connected,” says Peffer.

Smart solutions are fast filling the gap in the limited supply of electricity in the country, with innovations like solar panels for smartphone charging, power bricks that provide off-the-grid solutions for household devices, and fast-charge mobile power banks for rent.

To this end, it’s clear that the continent is on an upward trajectory in navigating power issues, while embracing the digital future of a mobile-first African economy.