Mobile growth is exploding in developing nations and continents worldwide. In fact, Africa has one of the largest growth rates in voice, mobile Web and mobile commerce channels.
For those who haven’t read the excellent series of six articles on telecommunications in emerging markets (The Economist, 9/26/09), I highly recommend you do.
The articles review the economic impact of low-cost mobile handsets for commerce, pre-paid vs. post-paid mobile services, new data services that boost business, China’s emergence in wireless telecommunications services and handset manufacturing, mobile phones for financial transactions and Internet access as the voice markets become saturated.
The six articles provide a broad perspective on wireless growth within the developing world. The striking disparity between mobile in developed and developing nations is humbling. While mobile users in the United States, Europe and Asia enjoy the benefits of affordable voice and data services, most of the rest of the world is only beginning to prosper from voice services.
Developing Nations Transformed by Mobile Growth
In Africa, one woman’s life improved with a single mobile phone. She micro-financed a loan to pay for the phone and small antenna. Earning a small amount of money from each phone call, she was able to build a sustainable business by buying a second phone.
As mobile handsets dropped in price, others in her village bought their own phones, paying more for phone service than for water, energy and other necessities. People in developing nations have discovered having a mobile phone pays for itself quickly and is a necessity for improving their financial condition.
Cell Phones Growing Rapidly Worldwide
- “…adding 10 mobile phones per person in a typical developing country boosts growth in GDP per person by 0.8 percentage points.”
- “In 2000 the developing countries accounted for around one-quarter of the world’s 700m or so mobile phones. By the beginning of 2009 their share grew to three-quarters of total wireless phones numbering 4 billion…” In 2011 5.5 billion people on Earth have mobile phones.
- China has 700 million mobile subscribers. India’s mobile growth is 20 million per month. And Africa has the fastest rate of subscriber growth. Adoption of cell phones among the developing world’s rural poor is accelerating. By 2013, the GSMA, an industry group, estimates a subscriber total of 6 billion with half of new users in China and India.
People in developing nations with high mobile growth benefit significantly as cellular expands worldwide.