According to GSMA Intelligence's latest 'Global Mobile Trends' report [PDF] released this month, sub-Saharan Africa - SSA- will hit 634 million unique mobile subscribers by 2025. This will represent a 52% penetration up from last year's 44%, which implied only 441 million subscribers in SSA.
Despite the fact that Sub-Saharan Africa still has the lowest penetration rate, the region is facing a slowing penetration rate.
The figure grew to almost 12% in the period between 2010 - 2015. Yet, it declined to only 5.9% from then and expected to continue on the downward spiral. "Mobile subscriber growth is now firmly in single digits and will fall below 5% in the first half of the next decade," wrote GSMAi.
The report singled out the younger population as a key factor to the slow growth. "Around 40% of the population is 14 years and under," the report noted. Adding that any future growth will depend on developing services that cater to the group.
Other interesting statistics about SSA pointed out in the report included smartphone adoption.
By 2025, there will be an estimated 691 million smartphones in SSA, up from last year's 244 million. The former will represent a 67% adoption rate which is double the current 33%.
SSA still has 785 million not connected to the internet which is almost 20% of the Global total. While 403 million of these are not covered by either 3G/4G making up an estimated 42.6% of the Global figure.
When it comes to smartphone penetration, the role of companies like Transsion in driving down the cost of smartphones will be significant.
The report also pointed out that the revenue for operators in the mobile space will jump to $50 billion by 2025. That is 1.9% [CAGR] up from last year's $43 billion.
They are looking to bet on digital services to increase customer engagement and drive revenue growth with mobile money central to the strategy.
"Mobile money is central to this strategy; in 39 countries across the region, the service enables financial transactions across multiple verticals while also bringing large portions of the population with limited access to a traditional financial institution into a growing digital payments ecosystem."