The East African region, which includes countries like Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda, will have 186 million mobile broadband connections by 2022.
According to an analysis by Ovum, this presents an enormous opportunity for players in the telecommunications sector.
The company, a market-leading data, research and intelligence consultancy, says that mobile data will be the key growth driver for the East African telecoms market in the next five years.
Ovum, which is focused on helping digital service providers and their technology partners thrive in the connected digital economy, stated that its forecast for mobile broadband (MBB) in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda is 112 million subscriptions by the end of 2022, while the forecast for MBB in all nine East Africa countries is 186 million subscriptions at the end of 2022.
Ovum’s researchers believe that the growth of mobile broadband will be powered by increased deployment and upgrade of 3G (third generation) and 4G (fourth generation) Long-Term Evolution (LTE) networks, as well as a rise in smartphone penetration due to better affordability.
Long-Term Evolution is a standard for high-speed wireless communication for mobile devices
“The East African region has made great progress in broadband connectivity over the last few years, and this has unlocked great potential in digital services segment, including mobile financial services, digital media as well as enterprise services,” said Ovum Research Analyst for the Middle East and Africa,” said Danson Njue.
“However, the growth in broadband connectivity has also seen a rise in Over-The-Top (OTT) services thereby increasing chances of data revenue cannibalization for data service providers in the region,” he added.
OTT refers to a situation where a telecommunications service provider delivers one or more services across an IP network.
These predictions come at a time when there has been a sharp rise in demand for broadband services from consumers in the region. The demand has been fueled by the East Africa’s ongoing digital transformation.
Ovum forecasts that there will be 32 million LTE subscriptions in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda by 2022, while smartphone connections will be 108 million.