Kenya projects to have 35.1 million unique mobile subscribers by 2025 from 29.6 million in 2017 which is equivalent to 5.5% of the Sub-Saharan African base. A unique mobile subscriber is a person who has more than one network of connections. The number will be achieved by capitalizing on populous and unexploited rural markets.
According to the 2018 Mobile Economy Report, telecommunications and network providers are strongly recommended to realize the projected goals in the next seven years.
The report states that rural Kenya accounts for at least 70% of the population which is projected to rise to 50 million come 2025. This will help raise Kenya’s current subscription figures to hit over 55% from 49% in 2017.
This development implies that the country will continue to have a higher mobile adoption rate than the regional average. “The main growth driving force in Kenya is an enabling environment for mobile money operator-led services, which has allowed operators to innovate and invest in products that increase access to and usage of mobile money services,” said Mr. Okeleke
For East Africa alone, unique mobile subscribers will rise significantly to over 112.3 million in 2025 from the 76 million in 2017.
The report notes that East Africa has some of the largest proportions of rural populations in Sub-Sahara Africa, with Burundi slightly edging out Kenya at 87 per cent.
Rwanda will hit 70 per cent in 2025, Tanzania 67 per cent and Uganda 83 per cent. Subscriber penetration will rise from 42 per cent in 2017 to 50 per cent in 2025 in East Africa
The report forecasts that there will be a whopping 634 million unique mobile subscribers across Sub-Sahara Africa by 2025, equivalent to 52 per cent of the total population, placing Kenya ahead of the pack in the growth.
“The majority of unconnected people in the region live in rural areas and face significant connectivity barriers especially around infrastructure coverage, high cost of mobile devices, and lack of digital skills,” said Mr Okeleke. To increase mobile subscription specifically in East Africa, the report recommends that governments should support mobile operators to extend network infrastructure to remote communities in a cost-effective way.
“Key trends shaping Africa’s stride in mobile money have seen services evolving from predominantly person-to-person transfers and remittances to include more complex financial products such as savings, credit, insurance, bonds and person to government services,” said Mr Okeleke.