12 May 2017

Africa: 102 Mobile Operators Have Launched 4G-LTE Services in 43 Countries, Says New Report

London — Balancing Act has finalized its report on 4G/LTE network rollouts in Africa. 43 countries in Africa have some kind of 4G/LTE coverage. This is one of several findings in the report that will affect the lives of Africa's citizens, and how business will be carried out.

After 2G and 3G, the first 4G tests started in 2010-2011 in a few African countries. For example, in Nigeria, Glo Mobile/Globacom piloted LTE in 2011. The first operator to officially launch 4G in Africa was Angola Telecom / Movicel in April 2012. The most recent operator launching 4G/LTE is Gambian QCell, which rolled out across the Greater Banjul area in May 2017. Until now, the majority of 4G LTE launches in Africa have taken place in the 2015-2016 period but this is just the beginning of a key shift in what operators can offer in terms of data speeds.

Some facts and trends from the report:

According to our estimates, the total number of 4G LTE subscribers in Africa in April 2017 has reached around 13 million (out of 1.2 billion inhabitants), a penetration rate of above 1%. 4G has seen continuous growth across Africa: On January 1st., 2016, Balancing Act confirmed that 4G-LTE had been launched in 24 African countries. In mid-2016, there were 72 LTE 4G services in 32 countries across Africa.

On 12th. May 2017, Balancing Act confirms that 102 mobile operators have launched 4G/LTE services in 43 African countries, mainly in large cities. At least another 88 mobile operators in Africa plan to launch 4G in the next two years. Altogether, 190 mobile operators have officially announced 4G plans in Africa today.

The two most active mobile operators in this segment across Africa are MTN and Orange: MTN has launched 4G in 11 countries, while Orange made 4G services available in 10 countries.

The adoption of 4G by African citizens and businesses is at an embryonic stage, but it will be followed by strong growth, mirroring the upsurge in 3G. The current 4G LTE subscriber base is still weak as Africa accounts for less than 1% of the global 4G base. Approximately 50% of mobile subscriptions in Africa are actively using data - but less than 2% of this user base is using 4G devices. Nevertheless, 4G adoption will explode in the years to come.

Government's action can accelerate or slow down the pace of 4G launches.

Suppliers' support is an important factor in the early launch of 4G-LTE. In particular, the availability and the price of mobile devices emerge as major factors favouring the general deployment of 4G LTE networks.

There are many possibilities for developing content and mobile applications on broadband networks in Africa, the key question is : will local communities adopt them? Will those apps find the right business models to survive?

Except in a few cases, mobile operators in Africa do not publish 4G subscriber numbers for now, and this lack of data may slow down investment in the market.

There are very few detailed studies on 4G deployments by country across Africa. This report provides updated information on the status and key trends in the continent's 4G/LTE space.

This report is available either as a PDF or a Word document and as an Excel spreadsheet.

1) The Excel table provides: The list of 4G service launches per operator and per country; Launch dates; and the number of 4G subscriptions per operator (estimates).

And where information is available: locations covered; The amount of investment required, including 4G license fees and deployment costs; Sites where 4G has been/will be deployed; Target markets for 4G services (commercial / residential), testing of 4G per operator; The main technology providers used for some projects.

2) The 35-page PDF (or Word upon request) document provides strategic analysis, key trends, issues, and tactical solutions to grow the 4G market.

The report is available online now.

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