A colossal disparity exists between fixed and mobile communication penetration rates across Africa. While mobile communications captured 96.4 percent of the subscriber market share in 2013, fixed communications held a mere 3.6 percent. The rationale is that fixed line communication services are offered solely by state-owned entities across African countries with limited funds for infrastructure development and investment. Furthermore, a lack of competition within the Fixed Line Market has resulted in little motivation to improve services and customers, therefore, choose to communicate through mobile devices rather than fixed line modes.
While robust mobile penetration rates have fuelled the growth of the telecommunications market in Africa, other factors have served to / hamper market development. Both fixed and mobile operators will have to invest huge amounts to develop telecommunication infrastructure across Africa due to scattered and low population densities. Social, economic and political instability as well as governments’ prioritisation of issues such as poverty, low levels of education, and poor access to healthcare over telecommunications too slow down development. The market is also consolidating as operators struggle to overcome strict regulations and intense competition within the overall telecommunications market.
“Urban dwellers will now become a minority target for telecommunications providers as most have been exposed to technological and communication developments,” noted Vassen. To gain market share in the rural areas, participants will have to make communication a commodity.”
With the growing popularity of mobile communications, opportunities to create eGovernment, eEducation and eHealth platforms have also emerged. Already, small and medium enterprises are taking advantage of the proliferation of communication technologies and integrating it in sectors that are crucial for the development of countries across Africa. Such initiatives have given rise to mobile agriculture and mobile banking.