BackgroundOver the past two decades the mobile industry in West Africa has grown from a government controlled space to become a huge market fueling economic growth and technological innovation. Mobile network operators are now heavily competing for the millions of African consumers looking to connect with each other in an easy and affordable manner. Proponents to this growth include The World Bank’s investment of $50M USD in ICT infrastructure development and capacity building for Nigeria; as well as a fiber optic submarine West African Cable System (WACS) slated to dramatically increase broadband capacity for the region. According to analysts, WACS undersea cable is particularly expected to bolster the continent’s capacity for service delivery and infrastructure. Indeed, the mobile telecommunications industry has positioned itself as a shining light for West Africa’s development.
According to industry estimates, West Africa holds 188M mobile subscribers, nearly 30% of Africa’s total mobile market share . Nigeria represents the largest share with over 95M subscribers with Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire representing the next two largest markets at 21M and 17M respectively. The entire West Africa region has witnessed tremendous growth with an average growth rate of 9% per quarter. Predicted to reach more than 310M subscribers by 2017 , West Africa’s mobile ecosystem is also supported by the explosive economic growth of many of its smaller countries like Mali, Liberia, and Niger Republic.