Home TechInternet MWC Kigali 2023 Highlights Challenges in Mobile Internet Adoption in Sub-Saharan Africa

MWC Kigali 2023 Highlights Challenges in Mobile Internet Adoption in Sub-Saharan Africa

The release of the GSMA's Mobile Economy Sub-Saharan Africa Report marked the opening of MWC Kigali 2023

by Brian Yatich
MWC Kigali 2023 Highlights Challenges in Mobile Internet Adoption in Sub-Saharan Africa

African Countries including Benin, Chad, and the Democratic Republic of Congo still face significant challenges in mobile internet adoption, with penetration levels below 15 per cent.

This is according to GSMA’s Mobile Economy Sub-Saharan Africa Report which was released during the opening of MWC Kigali 2023.

The report further highlighted a usage gap of 59% in mobile internet usage within Sub-Saharan Africa, indicating the need for efforts to bridge this gap and ensure wider access to mobile internet services.

The usage gap refers to individuals who are not using mobile internet despite living in an area covered by mobile broadband networks.

While the report acknowledged over 285 million people in the region – representing 25% of the population – were using mobile internet, the significant usage gap highlights the impact of the barriers to adoption, including the lack of affordability and low levels of digital skills.

The  Congress organized by the GSMA, brought together influential policymakers, global business leaders, and technology innovators to discuss the current state and future of mobile technology and connectivity in Africa.

During the event, His Excellency Paul Kagame, the President of Rwanda, emphasized the importance of digital skills and literacy for Africa’s development. He also highlighted the global support for Africa’s digital transformation and the need for collaboration during times of crisis.

Globally, we are also seeing strong momentum to support Africa’s digital transformation. If there is one lesson from the pandemic, it is that in times of crisis, we have to look for the common denominator. Only then, can we see the light at the end of the tunnel, and build the future we all deserve.

Mats Granryd, the Director General of the GSMA, highlighted the growth of mobile penetration in Sub-Saharan Africa, with nearly 490 million unique subscribers.

However, he also pointed out that only one in four individuals in the region subscribes to mobile internet, indicating a usage gap that needs to be addressed.

MWC Kigali featured over 60 exhibitors and sponsors, providing a platform to explore ways to accelerate Africa’s digital transformation and bridge the usage gap.

The event included activities such as keynote speeches, panel discussions, and showcases of disruptive talent within the regional mobile ecosystem.

The GSMA’s Mobile for Development team played a prominent role, bringing together mobile operators, tech innovators, and development organizations to discuss the role of digital technology in reducing inequality. The Development Theatre hosted insightful sessions on digital inclusion, the socio-economic advantages of mobile money, and building smarter African cities.

The Africa Policy Leaders Forum, organized by the GSMA, focused on accelerating Africa’s progress by addressing issues such as investment gaps, bridging the digital divide, and enhancing handset affordability. The forum provided a platform for stakeholders from ministries, regulatory bodies, and the mobile ecosystem to collaborate and find solutions.

The Better Future Stage at MWC Kigali showcased start-ups, investors, and entrepreneurs in the African telecoms ecosystem. At this stage, Orange announced the winners of its Orange Social Venture Prize, highlighting innovative solutions in the region.

MWC Kigali 2023 was held in conjunction with the Africa HealthTech Summit and Smart Africa. The Africa HealthTech Summit focused on digital innovation in Africa’s healthcare sector, while Smart Africa brought together public and private sector players dedicated to the socio-economic development of the continent.

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