Strategic Challenges in a Global Market
Chapter 4: Structural and Strategic Adjustment in African Mobile Telecommunications
4.1 INTRODUCTION With market penetration at very high levels, especially relative to incomes, in most of Europe and increasingly in Asia and the Americas, the attention of mobile network operators was bound to be drawn towards the low penetration levels typically found in African countries.1 While certain individual countries such as China and the USA currently have more mobile subscribers than the whole of Africa, this is set to change as African mobile markets enjoy rapid growth. Mobile subscriptions in the whole of Africa passed the 200 million mark during 2007Q1, having added 60 million during the year to end-March 2007. The overall growth rate during calendar year 2006 is estimated at 45 per cent, well ahead of the 30 per cent recorded in the Middle East and the 38 per cent recorded in the AsiaPaciﬁc region, although such rapid growth is unlikely to be sustainable (Lennighan, 2007a). Western Africa is the fastest-growing sub-market but still has a fairly low overall penetration rate especially compared to Southern Africa. Algeria and Tunisia reached roughly 80 per cent penetration during 2007 – a rate comparable to developed countries in many other parts of the world – but Africa remains a continent of contrasts, with the likes of Sudan and Libya expected to struggle to exceed 20 per cent penetration.2 Notwithstanding such diﬀerences, the ever-wider prevalence of mobile communications across Africa has contributed signiﬁcantly to improving tele-density levels. Indeed, mobile now underpins the improvement in the continent’s tele-density. In 2003 there were...
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