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Figure: Evolution of Cell Phone Market Structure

June 3, 2010  »  StatisticsNo Comment

Click to enlarge. Jenny C. Aker and Isaac M. Mbiti, "Mobile Phones and Economic Development in Africa," Working Paper 211, Center for Global Development, June 2010, 41.

The working paper that produced the above image is worth a read, but this graph is especially captivating:

  • In the early years of cell phone use (1995-2000) there was little demand and incumbent operators simply controlled all mobile traffic. Those with cell phones either had them through the government or could afford the high costs.
  • The next five years saw an explosion in fully liberalized markets (markets where market operators are granted their own international gateway licenses) as the general public became interested in mobile communication.
  • Then, in this same context, the continental market structure remained unchanged for the next five years, with 50% of markets fully liberalized and the other 50% split between partial deregulation and monopoly. Perhaps the monopolized markets still experience little demand for widespread mobile use, but that is unlikely the whole story. Instead, the governments probably have not taken adequate steps to control the telecoms industry (ie. establish a regulatory body).

It would be interesting to see a country-specific breakdown.

Image source: “Mobile Phones and Economic Development in Africa,” Jenny C. Aker and Isaac M. Mbiti, Working Paper 211, Center for Global Development, June 2010. {http://www.cgdev.org/files/1424175_file_Aker_Mobile_wp211_FINAL.pdf}