Mobile data traffic in Sub-Saharan Africa to grow sixfold by 2026

Average traffic per smartphone is expected to reach 8.9GB over the forecast period

In Summary
  • Average traffic per smartphone in Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to reach 8.9GB.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa’s mobile broadband subscriptions are set to account for 76% of all mobile subscriptions by 2025.

Mobile data traffic in Sub-Saharan Africa is likely to grow by almost 6.5 times by 2026 driven by demand for coverage of cellular networks, according to the Ericsson Mobility Report.

The report further estimates that total traffic will increase from 0.87exabytes per month in 2020 to 5.6exabytes by 2026.

Meanwhile, average traffic per smartphone is expected to reach 8.9gigabytes over the forecast period.

Telecommunication service providers are therefore expected to continue investing in their networks to cater for this uptake and meet evolving consumer requirements.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, mobile subscriptions will continue to grow over the forecast period as mobile penetration today, at 84 per cent, is less than the global average.

4G connectivity in the continent is estimated to account for around 15 percent of subscriptions by the end of 2020.

The report emphasises the importance of releasing more spectrum in Africa to expand coverage, improve network quality and encourage mobile adoption.

“Investing in network infrastructure and optimizing spectrum assignments to deliver expansive 4G connectivity, paving the way for 5G, are critical requirements to consider in this journey and to accelerate digital transformation across the continent,” said Fadi Pharaon, President of Ericsson Middle East and Africa.

Telcos in Kenya, Safaricom and Telkom Kenya have been rolling out the4G network as they seek to grow internet penetration in the country.

They also rolled out affordable 4G enabled handsets to allow Kenyans to be able to access the superfast internet.

Over the forecast period, mobile broadband subscriptions in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) are predicted to increase, reaching 76 per cent of mobile subscriptions.

Driving factors behind the growth of mobile broadband subscriptions include a young, growing population with increasing digital skills and more affordable smartphones.

Over the forecast period, distinct volumes of 5G subscriptions are expected from 2022, reaching 5 percent in 2026.

While 5G and 4G subscriptions will continue to grow over the next 6 years, 3G subscriptions will remain the dominant technology in SSA with a share of over 40 percent in 2026.