With the increase in saturation of mobile services in urban markets across the world, mobile operators have shifted their focus to towards the relatively untapped rural markets for better business opportunities and a chance at increasing revenues.
According to reports, industry analysts predict Nigeria the largest mobile market in the continent, to be home to over 90 million subscribers by this year end. Further, improvements in broadband connectivity along with the emergence of new generation smartphones are expected to drive mobile data growth in the economy.
In most rural economies, the lack of adequate infrastructure has been a grave cause of concern for mobile operators as it reduces their profits and drives up costs for customers. Currently, industry reports suggest that a fully functioning network grid could help operators cut their mobile tariffs by 50 percent, which is higher than those being offered in developed countries.
Changes have been observed in the investment environment as well. With operators offering discounted services to low income users in order to expand their reach, the ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) has witnessed a decline. Bharti Airtel, which had acquired Africa’s Zain, slashed its prices by significant amounts in a bid to increase its market share, which increased the pressure across the industry. Further, sources reveal that Etisalat (Saudi Arabia) and Globacom have also been increasingly gaining customers, giving strong competition to market leader MTN.
The next big thing in the economy is being considered to be mobile banking services. With a large portion of the population being unbanked but gaining access to mobile devices, more and more consumers are using their phone to transfer money and pay for goods, in a more convenient and secure manner.