Abidjan — THE mobile industry in West Africa is forecast to contribute more than $50 billion annually to the region's economy by 2022.
Mobile Special Group Association, popularly known as GSMA (Groupe Spéciale Mobile Association), made the projections at the Mobile 360 - West Africa event in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
The Mobile Economy: West Africa 2018, calculates that the region's mobile ecosystem contributed $37 billion in value last year, equivalent to 6,5 percent of gross domestic (GDP), and will grow to $51 billion (7,7 percent of GDP) within five years.
The economic contribution over this period will be spurred by strong subscriber growth and the move to mobile broadband networks and services.
John Giusti, Chief Regulatory Officer at the GSMA, said the report released on Wednesday demonstrated the vital role West Africa's mobile ecosystem is playing in driving economic growth and empowering citizens across the region, as well as in delivering against many of the targets of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals.
"However, further work is required as more than half of West Africa's citizens are not yet connected to a mobile service, excluding them from the socio-economic benefits that mobile delivers."
At the end of 2017, there were 176 million unique mobile subscribers across the 15-country West Africa sub-region.
This is equivalent to a penetration rate of 47 percent of the region's population, up from just 28 percent at the start of the decade.
Strong subscriber growth is forecast to continue over the coming years- 72 million additional mobile subscribers are expected to be added in West Africa by 2025, lifting subscriber penetration to 54 percent.
Much of this growth is attributable to the demographic situation across the region, as large youth populations are expected to take out mobile subscriptions as they reach adulthood.
More than 40 percent of the population in many countries across Sub-Saharan Africa is below the age of 16.
Last year, the mobile industry in West Africa provided employment to more than 200 000 people.