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Sierra Leone News: 55% of Sierra Leoneans do not use mobile phones

A report released by GSMA, reveals that Sierra Leone has increased its non-mobile users by 5% in 2017 along with a growth increase from 17% to 21% for mobile internet users and a 2% increase for voice and text only users from 22% to 24%.
According to the GSMA Intelligence report titled, “The Mobile Economy West Africa 2018”. GSMA Intelligence is the definitive source of global mobile operator data, analysis and forecasts, and publisher of authoritative industry reports and research.
On mobile technology as a key enabler of digital inclusion, it stated that it is the first and, in many cases, only source of connectivity for the majority of internet users in West Africa.
The number of mobile internet subscribers doubled over the last four years to reach 78 million, nearly half the total number of mobile subscribers, by the end of 2017.
“Over the five years to 2025, an additional 100 million people are expected to subscribe to a mobile internet service, with the majority of new subscribers connecting through a high-speed mobile broadband network” the report reads.
4G adoption is said to be rising rapidly as a result of network expansion and greater availability of 4G devices. 5G is expected to launch in the sub-region by 2025, although initial adoption will be impacted by network coverage and affordability.
As of the first quarter of 2018, there were 29 live LTE networks in nine countries across West Africa, six of which have been launched in the last year, including Airtel Nigeria in February 2018, Africell Gambia and Sierratel Sierra Leone in January 2018. This did not include Africell Sierra Leone which launched its 4G LTE in the last few weeks.
The report accentuated the challenge of low mobile internet penetration in the sub-region, relative to the global average of 43.2%, which it says highlights the need for stakeholders to work together on network solutions and services that can improve access to and usage of mobile internet services among unconnected people in the sub-region.
Statistics in the report revealed that the number of mobile internet subscribers doubled over the last four years to reach 78 million, nearly half of the total number of mobile subscribers, by the end of 2017.
Further that the number of registered mobile money accounts in the sub-region reached 104.5 million in 2017, while the total value of transactions for the same period reached US$5.3 billion.
In 2017, it was discovered that mobile is contributing to GDP and employment, and that the mobile ecosystem contributed $37 billion, equivalent to 6.5% of GDP, to the West African economy.
Over 200,000 people in West Africa predominantly in the retailing and distribution of services and handsets gained employment from mobile operators and the wider mobile ecosystem in 2017.
In value-added terms, it was estimated that mobile will contribute US$51 billion to the West African economy by 2022, equivalent to 7.7% of GDP.
The GSMA works with mobile operators, governments and other ecosystem players to address the four main barriers – infrastructure, affordability, consumer readiness, and content – to mobile internet adoption.
By Zainab Iyamide Joaque
Tuesday June 12, 2018.

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