"This has been driven by the operators' network plans that have made mobile services available to a greater number of people," explains Frost & Sullivan ICT Programme Manager Birgitta Cederstrom. "The limited presence of fixed-line infrastructure has also created a favourable environment for mobile operators to thrive."
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (wireless.frost.com), West African Mobile Communications Market, finds that the market earned revenues of $12.0 billion in 2008 and estimates this to reach $22.6 billion in 2015, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.4 per cent. The technologies covered in this research are 2G (CDMA/TDMA/GSM), 2.5G (GPRS), 3G (CDMA 2000/WCDMA), and 4G (fully IP-based integrated system).
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"Fixed-line penetration in West Africa is considerably low at an average of about 2.0 per cent across the region," Cederstrom says. "This is because fixed-line communications services are usually provided through a government-owned incumbent, where the services tend to be limited, of poor quality, and unreliable. Mobile communications services are an attractive alternative and offer a wider range of options and services."
Liberalisation policies and favourable regulatory conditions have encouraged the entry of new mobile operators with an extensive offering of products and services, targeted at different market segments.
However, the West African region is characterised by abject poverty and low disposable incomes, particularly in the rural areas. Hence, there is an increasing need for low-cost communication services. Further, the average revenue per user (ARPU) has been declining year-on-year due to price-based competition. Mobile operators face the challenge of finding alternative means of differentiating themselves in such a fiercely competitive environment.
"In the midst of the global economic downturn, subscribers reduced spending on basic communication services," explains Cederstrom. "This exerted downward pressure on mobile market revenues as well as profit margins, thereby slackening the market growth."
The introduction of unified licensing regimes or global licenses operators has paved the way for operators to provide converged services. The emergence of advanced IP technology enables the provision of data, voice, broadcasting, fixed, and mobile services over one network and creates opportunities for bundled service offerings. Consequently, operators are expanding their product portfolios and gradually positioning themselves as converged services providers, more in order to offset the decline in voice airtime sales, which has historically constituted the bulk of their revenues.
"Operators are mitigating the decline in voice revenues due to price based competition by providing diversified product portfolios," concludes Cederstrom. "Additionally, they should provide value-added service offerings targeted at different market segments to spur further growth."
West African Mobile Communications Market is part of the Mobile & Wireless Growth Partnership Services programme, which also includes research in the following markets: East African Mobile Communications Market, Analysis of selected Central African Mobile Communications Markets, Southern African Mobile Communications Market, and West African Broadband Market. All research services included in subscriptions provide detailed market opportunities and industry trends that have been evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants.
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West African Mobile Communications Market / M496