Smartphone usage exploding in Africa

Africa is seeing a dramatic increase in smartphone adoption and mobile data usage, which is set to fuel an increase in non-voice revenues to 20 per cent of mobile service revenues by 2014.

Around 60 per cent of all mobile phones being sold by MTN in its own-branded shops in South Africa are smartphones, according to MTN CEO Karel Pienaar, speaking at Informa Telecoms & Media’s AfricaCom event in Cape Town on Wednesday. MTN is also selling 3,000-5,000 mobile broadband-enabled laptops per month.

Pienaar said that in future most of MTN’s revenue growth will be in data. But he acknowledged that at the moment, mobile data revenues excluding SMS are very low, at just 1.35 per cent. To maximise profit from mobile data in the region, Pienaar argued that operators need to bring the cost of providing data down to below 20 per cent of its current level.

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