A United Nations report says mobile phone subscriptions have grown faster in Africa than in any other region of the world since 2003. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has just published its Information Economy Report 2009, which shows there are now more than 10 times as many mobile subscriptions as fixed lines in all of Africa - and more than 20 times as many in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Between 2003 and 2008, mobile subscriptions in Africa rose from 54 million to almost 350 million - an increase of over 500%. Today, average mobile penetration in Africa is over a third of the population. Some countries have approaching 100% penetration, while only five African countries - Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia - still have a mobile penetration of less than 10%.
African countries – particularly Kenya, South Africa, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia - are also pioneering mobile banking and electronic transaction services. However, although investment in mobile technology has increased dramatically, there’s no similar increase in broadband internet services. Just five countries (Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, South Africa, and Tunisia) account for 90% of all broadband subscriptions – mainly due to a lack of fixed-line infrastructure in other regions.