The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), in one of its past research activities about mobile in five African countries, affirmed a sharp increase in the population of Africans that are using mobile devices to access the internet.
A recent report by the GSMA — The 2018 State of the Industry Report on Mobile Money (PDF) — also reiterates the importance of mobile in the Sub-Saharan African region, especially with respect to mobile money.
According to the report, there are 395.7 million registered mobile money accounts in the Sub-Saharan African region as of December 2018, representing 45.6% of the global figures. The region is followed by South Asia with 33.2% and East & Pacific, 11%.
Of the 395.7 million registered mobile money accounts in Sub-Saharan Africa, 145.8 million are active. Compared to global figures of 298.7 million, that translates to 48.8% of the active accounts in the world.
Worthy of note is that a total of 17.5 million new active mobile money accounts were added in the region in 2018. And beyond that, the value of mobile money transactions in the year for the region amount to $26.8 billion out of the global figure of $40.8 billion.
For the new active accounts, it can be deduced that Nigeria added a significant percentage as figures from the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System show that the nation’s mobile money market had a total of 8.5 million customers as at December 2018, as against 3.84 million customers in 2017, adding 4.66 million new customers within a year.
While the region added millions of new active users, activity rate on mobile money didn’t witness any increase as it still maintains the same percentage with 2017 at 36.8%.
In addition, more than a third of adults in countries like Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Rwanda, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe are active mobile money users.
With smartphone penetration expected to rise to 66% by 2025 in the Sub-Saharan African region, the above share of mobile money accounts in the region will definitely continue to be on the rise.