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The Mobile Economy West Africa 2019

By the end of 2018, there were 185 million unique mobile subscribers in West Africa, an increase of nearly 10 million over the previous year. Future growth will largely be driven by young consumers owning a mobile phone for the first time; more than 40% of the sub-region’s population are under 18 years old. A considerable proportion will become young adults over the next decade.

3G will overtake 2G in 2019 to become the leading mobile technology in West Africa, accounting for 49% of total connections by the end of the year. 3G adoption in the sub-region has doubled over the last two years as a result of continued operator investment in network expansion to previously underserved areas. Meanwhile, 4G is finally beginning to gain traction in the sub-region. The sluggish initial take-up of 4G was mainly due to delays in assigning 4G spectrum to established service providers that have the resources and capability for large-scale network deployment.

In view of the significant contribution of mobile technology and the activities of mobile ecosystem players to socioeconomic development in West Africa, governments and policymakers need to create and implement policies that can drive innovation and investments in new services and much-needed network infrastructure in underserved areas.

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