Summary of ITU’s updated key telecom indicators (fixed, mobile broadband subscriptions)
On November 16, 2011, the ITU released updated key ICT indicators for their six defined global regions. The latest data includes projections for 2011. How do African (Sub-Saharan African) trends look based on a few years of data? Generally as expected, with strong mobile growth and flat fixed-line growth.
Fixed telephone lines
- No surprises here – essentially no one in Africa (less than 2%) regularly uses a fixed telephone line. There has been negative growth in this area since 2009. That is, Africans are choosing mobile phones instead of demanding traditional landlines.
Mobile cellular subscriptions
- 2011 marks the year where, according to what data is available, more than half of the African population has a mobile subscription. Of course, we must remember that an individual may have multiple subscriptions, so this statistic alone doesn’t say too much. However, the trend is more legitimate, and shows 17-19% annual growth since 2008.
Active mobile broadband subscriptions
- Mobile broadband continues to show rapid adoption rates of greater than 50% annually. The growth rate of penetration of mobile broadband subscriptions is expected to slow slightly, from 79% last year to 52% through 2011. By the end of the year, more than 30 million African mobile broadband subscriptions will exist – about one subscription for every 26 Africans.
- The widely-cited ITU Internet penetration rate is expected to increase from 11.3% in 2010 to 12.8% by the end of 2011. Basically, 13% more of the population has Internet access than did a year ago. The growth rate for this metric is slowly decreasing. Last year, for example, the percentage of Africans who used the Internet grew by 19%. Two years ago that number was a staggering 48%. If these trends continue, not even 20% of SSA will be an Internet user by 2015. Of course, one of the challenges is keeping up with the population growth rate.
Fixed broadband subscriptions
- Again, only the smallest percentage of Africans have a fixed broadband subscription. The roll-out of fixed broadband has been rather slow for much of Africa. Urban areas may offer reasonably-priced broadband, but most of Africa is rural. Additionally, many Africans have no need for fixed broadband when mobile is more practical.
Households with a computer
- The percentage of households with a computer continues to increase at a steady rate of just over 10% annually. Again, many households have no need for a computer when there is mobile access, public access, or access from work or school.
Households with Internet access at home
- Nearly 6% of African households are projected to have Internet access at home by the end of the year. The metric grew by 33% since 2010 in part from increases in mobile broadband subscription and households with a computer. The global average is 34%.