This week, Africa has hosted the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Kigali, Rwanda. The event was characterized by a fireside chat between H.E Paul Kagame, the President of the Republic of Rwanda and Mats Granryd, the Director General at GSMA – which organized the event.
The keynote’s theme, ‘Building a Digital Future, Together’ led the event’s discussions about how mobile connectivity, a major engine of growth, is bringing endless potential by accelerating digital transformation for all business sectors in Africa, from healthcare and education to manufacturing and financial services.
President Kagame said that Africa is home to creative and tech-savvy youth, looking for the right platform to contribute solutions.
“We cannot afford to reduce them to a statistic only, or sit idly by, as they seek opportunity outside of Africa. Our young people have a lot to offer. We must do our part and keep our promise to them. To leave no one behind, we must create a more enabling legal and regulatory environment. However, to leave no one behind means a number of things as well, and we must recognise that digital transformation is not a zero-sum game, where progress comes at the expense of the most vulnerable. Not at all. Everyone, regardless of status, gender, or nationality, must benefit if we want to create lasting change,” H.E Paul Kagame said.
The GSMA MWC Africa brings together industry sectors, business leaders and policymakers with the region’s mobile ecosystem to discuss the continent’s ambition to enhance the power of connectivity. The event also marks the release of the Mobile Economy Sub-Saharan Africa 2022 report which finds that closing the mobile internet usage gap is crucial to realising the potential of mobile connectivity, with 5G-related activities beginning to pick up across the region.
“Africa stands at a unique moment in time. Over the past two decades, mobile growth across Sub-Saharan Africa has been phenomenal. Today, 46% of the population is connected and subscribed to mobile services, rising to 50% by 2025. In 2021, mobile technologies and services generated around 8% of GDP across Sub-Saharan Africa, supporting 3.2 million jobs across the region. Imagine what Africa will be when everyone is connected,” said Mats Granryd, Director General, GSMA. “To continue the momentum and create more jobs and foster inclusion and reduce inequality, we have to ensure that everyone has access to connectivity and can benefit from all it offers.”
“We anticipate welcoming attendees from nearly 90 countries across Africa and around the world who will gather this week to convene and hear from over 60 speakers, 45% of whom are female,” said Angela Wamola, Head of Sub-Saharan Africa, GSMA. “Mobile connectivity and connected technologies are enablers, supporting countries as they build forward better in pursuit of economic recovery and resilience. At MWC Africa, we will examine the urgency to bridge the digital divide for building inclusive, sustainable societies across Africa.”
The Mobile Economy Sub-Saharan 2022 report
The report calls for stakeholders to address the main barriers to mobile internet adoption, including affordability and digital skills, to realise the potential of mobile connectivity to drive economic growth and development. Its findings reveal how mobile connectivity is helping the region’s post-pandemic economic recovery by creating the digital technologies and services needed to build back economies that are more productive and efficient.
Other key findings Include:
- 40% of the adult population is now connected to mobile internet services. However, the usage gap remains a challenge: 44% live in areas covered by mobile broadband networks, but do not yet use mobile internet services
- In 2021, the mobile ecosystem supported more than 3.2 million jobs (directly and indirectly) and made a substantial contribution to the funding of the public sector, with $16 billion raised through taxes on the sector.
- By 2025, mobile’s contribution to the GDP of Sub-Sahara Africa will grow by $65 billion (to almost $155 billion), as the countries in the region increasingly benefit from increased take-up of mobile services
- By 2025, 4G will account for a third of mobile connections in the region, compared to under a fifth of connections in 2021.