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article imageAfrica/Middle East Mobile Biz to Hit $107B by 2013

By Tom Johansmeyer     Jul 9, 2008 in World
The mobile phone and data business is expected to reach $107 billion by 2013—in Africa and the Middle East. A new report by Juniper Research predicts that mobile data services will drive the sector’s growth in this emerging market.
The future of mobile is in data. In the Middle East and Africa, the mobile market is expected to reach $107 billion by 2013, says a report by Juniper Research. Data services, rather than new subscribers, are likely to fuel anticipated market gains. Saudi Arabia will remain the top market in the region, generating cumulative service revenue of $575 billion for the five-year period 2008 to 2013 and will have the greatest share of the region’s business (12.8 percent).
As the adoption of mobile technology increases, new subscribers will account for less of the region’s growth. At the end of 2007, the Africa/Middle East region had the second lowest mobile adoption rate in the world at only 7.4 percent, compared to 22 percent for South America and 35 percent for Eastern Europe. India had the lowest. But, Africa/Middle East’s mobile penetration did grow to 391.6 million users by 2007, a cumulative increase of 49 percent form 2003.
In sub-Saharan Africa, the reach of the mobile industry remains low, with penetration still below 30 percent in this part of Africa (except Botswana and South Africa). But, adoption rates in some Middle Eastern countries are above 100 percent. South Africa is approaching this level, and many North African countries have passed the 50 percent mark. As a result, subscriber growth is expected to slow starting in 2011.
With pressure on the market from shrinking new subscriber opportunities, data services will gain prominence. Juniper reports that mobile data will account for only 9 percent of operator-billed services in 2008 but will hit 24 percent by 2013. In 2007, operator-billed voice services were up 22.3 percent to $66.7 billion. Though still small, data climbed by 52.5 percent to $5 billion that year.
SMS advertising is currently the prevailing use of mobile data technology, given the constraints of low-end handsets used by most in the region. But, the proliferation of mobile financial services, along with developments in 2.5G, 3G and 3.5G wireless networks, is expected to lead to a wider array of mobile applications, driving higher the consumption of mobile data services.
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