MEA: fast growth for mobile broadband expected

Africa and the Middle East are set to lead global mobile broadband subscriber growth by 2012, according to analyst firm Pyramid Research. Given the current low level of penetration that's perhaps not the greatest surprise and African markets have some of the greatest headroom for growth with mobile data revenue in the region accounting for just 3% of the world's total. That compares unfavourably to all telecoms revenues from the region, which come to about 10% of the global total.


Mobile broadband is enjoying strong growth all over the world as the technology becomes more widely deployed. Informa Telecoms & Media reports that more than 15% of the revenues generated by mobile operators last year came from non-voice services and revenues for data services reached US$188.7 billion - a 24% year-on-year increase. However, Africa lags a long way behind leading markets. In North America about one-fifth of mobile operator revenues now comes from non-voice services whereas, in Africa, that figure is around 5%.


Africa is positioned to start catching up and Pyramid thinks the region will double its share of the global market by 2014 as rich and poor markets alike turn to mobile broadband. In addition, the market will grow faster than the global average in the next five years with the subscriber total increasing at a CAGR of 33%. That amounts to 32.2 million subscribers in the region by 2014. Pyramid analyst, Dearbhla McHenry reckons we'll also see the launch of 3G services impact the region's internet market, much in the same way that cellular calling transformed the region's voice market.