I haven't had new data on African mobile phone usage in some time, so I was pleased to see the July 5th issues of a friend's subscription to Africa & Middle East Telecom Weekly which presented complete mobile subscriber numbers from Blycroft Ltd, by country, for 1Q06 and 1Q07.
In March, I commented on some data from Light Reading which included Nigeria in the top ten countries globally, for absolute mobile subscriber growth numbers. Of course it helps that Nigeria has a fairly large population (135 million) so their rapid subscriber growth rate (> 50%) produces a large absolute number of new subscribers. There is no other country in Africa with a population as large as Nigeria's. The next largest is Egypt (80 million) and then the Democratic Republic of the Congo (66 million). By global standards, Africa has many countries with relatively small populations, so perhaps I can be forgiven for missing the bigger picture.
According to Blycroft estimates, there were 215 million mobile subscribers in Africa at the end of 1Q07, up from 128 million at the end of 1Q06. That's 46% growth year over year and puts African mobile teledensity at 23 subscriptions per 100 people at the end of March. Very impressive, especially that growth rate.
That led me to wonder about growth rates of specific countries in Africa. Here are the top 14 countries with populations over 3 million and teledensity over 20, ranked by their mobile subscriber growth rates for the 12 months ending March 2007, using mobile data from Blycroft and June 2007 population data from the CIA World Factbook.
Libya's population is only 6 million, but at the end of 1Q07 they had 2.7 million mobile subscribers, up 135% from 12 months earlier. Also while Egypt' population is only 60% that of Nigeria, they are ahead of Nigeria in both growth rate and teledensity.
Mobile teledensity for the African continent as a whole, is higher than that of India, at least for now. And, while Africa's mobile growth rate is quite not as high as that of India, it is fair to say, mobile is booming in Africa.