The mobile ecosystem contributed $37 billion, which was equivalent to 6.5 per cent of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP), to the West African economy in 2017.
The mobile ecosystem consists of mobile operators, infrastructure service providers, retailers and distributors of mobile products and services, mobile handset manufacturers, and mobile content, application and service providers.
The use of mobile technology also drives improvements in productivity and efficiency for workers and firms.
According to the Global System for Mobile Telecommunications (GSMA) in its Mobile Economy West Africa 2018 report presented at the Mobile 360 Series conference in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, it explained that 3G and 4G technology allow workers and firms to use mobile data and Internet services, which subsequently improves access to information and services, which in turn drives efficiency in business processes across many industries, including finance and health.
GSMA said the impact of mobile Internet is particularly significant, where fixed infrastructure is poor and mostly confined to large cities and business and industrial districts.
Furthermore, the mobile operators and the wider mobile ecosystem provided direct employment to more than 200, 000 people in West Africa in 2017, predominantly in the retailing and distribution of services and handsets.
In addition to this, the GSMA, which represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide and uniting nearly 800 operators across the globe, noted that economic activity in the ecosystem created jobs in other linked sectors as a result of the demand generated by the mobile sector.
Going forward, GSMA said it expect the economic contribution of the mobile ecosystem to continue to increase in both relative and absolute terms. “In value-added terms, we estimate that mobile will contribute $51 billion to the West African economy by 2022, equivalent to 7.7 per cent of GDP.
GSMA explained 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.
According to the Body, 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 $5.3 billion.
GSMA said the rapid adoption of mobile services and the funding and infrastructure gaps in the provision of essential services present an opportunity for local innovators to create digital solutions that address a wide range of social and economic challenges across different countries in the sub-region.
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