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450 million people lack access to mobile broadband – Report

GSMA has said that 19 per cent of people living in Nigeria, and other Sub-Saharan African countries do not have access to mobile broadband coverage.

The industry organisation which represents the interests of mobile network operators worldwide said this in its ‘The State of Mobile Internet Connectivity Report 2021’ report.

The report said a total number of people without access to mobile broadband coverage now stands at 450 million people, about six per cent of the world’s population.

GSMA said, “Those living in areas without mobile broadband coverage – stands at 450 million people, or six per cent of the world’s population.

“The biggest increases in coverage have occurred in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Pacific Islands.

“However, there has been a slowdown in covering the remaining population, with the coverage gap only reducing by one percentage point in 2020.

“Sub-Saharan Africa is still the region with the largest coverage gap, at 19 per cent.”

The organisation said 3.4 billion (about 43 per cent of the world’s population) people do not use mobile internet despite living in areas with mobile broadband coverage.

It added that mobile internet usage was at 61 per cent in South Asia.

According to GSMA, mobile phones are now more affordable in Nigeria and other Sub-Saharan African countries, and data are now more affordable in South Asia.

The organisation added that about 47 per cent (210 million people) in Sub-Saharan Africa did not use mobile internet despite the region’s continued effort to increase mobile broadband access, especially with major 3G and 4G rollouts in West and East Africa, including Nigeria, Mali, and Tanzania.

The GSMA said, “Given that the coverage gap continues to decline and that almost three quarters of the unconnected in the region are covered by mobile broadband, addressing the usage gap is the primary challenge.

“Accelerating adoption will increase the economic case for further expanding coverage, which will in turn help reduce the coverage gap.”

The organisation added that smartphone adoption was on the rise, accounting for 68 per cent of total mobile connections in 2020, compared to 64 per cent in 2019 and 47 per cent in 2016.

It said, “Growth continues in Sub-Saharan Africa but it is still lagging behind other regions, with smartphones accounting for less than half of total connections.

“Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest percentage of basic or feature phone connections, accounting for 45 per cent of all connections.

“In addition, a significant share of smartphones in Sub-Saharan Africa support 3G only, whereas in other regions, the majority of smartphones are 4G or 5G capable.”

The report added that there were now four billion people connected to the internet through mobile, 225 million more when compared to 2019.


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