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AfricaMoney | March 2, 2017

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Mauritius goes mobile

Mauritius goes mobile, has highest subscription penetration in region

Mauritius boasts the best mobile subscription penetration among its peers at over 70%, with the average rate in Sub-Saharan Africa being a lowly 30.8%. (Image:

Mauritius boasts the best mobile subscription penetration among its peers at over 70%, according to a report published on Monday by the GSMA, the body representing mobile operators worldwide.

The island nation shares the honors with the southern African state of Botswana and the central African economy of Gabon. South Africa follows close of their heels with subscription rates of 65.7%. Sub-Saharan Africa has average mobile subscription penetration of 30.8%, the study states.

Also, the report bears out the Mauritian government’s thrust on the ICT sector, stating that the Indian Ocean island leads in e-Governance in Africa, with government portals being important contributors to local content. According to the UN’s e-government development index, both Seychelles’ and Mauritius’ are above the world average, due to consolidation of the government portal and a broad service offering (such as vehicle inspections, scholarships and work permits, in the case of Mauritius).

Sub-Saharan Africa’s mobile industry has been the fastest growing region in the world for mobile users in the past five years, notes the report, adding that the mobile industry currently contributes more than 6% of Sub-Saharan Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP). While this is already higher than any other comparable region globally, this contribution is expected to rise from $60-billion in 2012 to $119-billion, or more than 8% of GDP, by 2020.

The report, ‘Sub-Saharan Africa Mobile Economy 2013’, states that the region’s mobile subscriber base has grown by 18% a year over the past five years to 253-million unique users and 502-million connections. GSMA forecasts that mobile users in the region will be closer to 346-million within the next five years.

Despite the high figures, there is still ample room for growth. Ethiopia, Burundi and Djibouti represent the lower end of the spectrum with mobile penetration rates ranging between a lowly 10-20%.

“With unique subscriber penetration rates still less than 33%, this opens up a major opportunities for growth in the next five years,” the GSMA said.

The report adds that a whopping 3.3-million jobs and over $21-billion inflows to public funding (including license fees) were key contributions of the mobile sector last year. And, come 2020, mobile is set to double its economic effect, employing 6.6-million people in the region and contributing $42-billion to public funding.

As mobiles proliferate, fixed-line penetration rates in many countries in the region are dipping, to levels less than even 5%.

“Mobile has emerged as the main medium for accessing the internet across sub-Saharan Africa. While 2G connections still dominate, 3G and 4G networks are gaining scale and smartphone ownership is on the rise,” the GSMA said.

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