Over the past years, the West and Central African region has witnessed a dramatic increase in mobile broadband connections, mainly due to the surge in mobile broadband connections in Ghana and Nigeria.

According to business research and consulting firm Frost & Sullivan (F&S), effective regulatory environments have made Nigeria and Ghana among the most dynamic broadband markets in sub-Saharan Africa with over 150 market participants and massive terrestrial infrastructure development.

With the deployment of advanced technologies, such as 3G networks in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Gabon, mobile broadband subscribers are expected to outpace fixed broadband connections in these two countries over the next five years.

New analysis from F&S’s West and Central African Broadband Market Tracker released March 13, 2012, finds that the market covering Nigeria, Ghana, DRC and Gabon earned revenues of approximately $1.2 billion in 2010 and estimates that this could reach $2.5 billion in 2017.

The low levels of broadband penetration in the four countries indicate that there are significant growth opportunities in the short-to-long term, the firm said.

“The availability of cost-effective mobile and wireless solutions will be a key market driver,” said Frost & Sullivan’s Information and Communications Technologies Research Analyst Mervin Miemoukanda in a statement.

“At the same time, greater demand for access to social media platforms will emerge as the most important factor for market participants to formulate their strategy for this year,” Miemoukanda added.

Rising demand for broadband services in the region, F&S noted has helped reduce the cost of customer-premises equipment, as well as smartphones while internet service providers (ISPs) have also introduced affordable Chinese customer-premises equipment to render broadband services to consumers.

“Furthermore, broadband providers are expected to increase partnerships with equipment vendors to reduce the cost of customer-premises equipment,” adds Miemoukanda noting “the impact of this driver is expected to be high throughout the forecast period, as mobile operators are shifting focus on growing their data offerings.”

The advent of social media platforms, coupled with growing computer-literate societies, has boosted demand for broadband connections across the region, the firm argues and as a result, the number of broadband users in these countries has “swelled”.

“The increase in broadband users has been primarily because mobile operators have deployed advanced technology networks,” remarks Miemoukanda. “As consumers are becoming more aware of the benefits of social media platforms, this driver is expected to remain high throughout the forecast period in all four countries.”

F&S said with decreased bandwidth costs in the region, the uptake of broadband services is expected to increase significantly. “More and more households, and small and medium companies, are expected to sign up for broadband services. As voice revenues have been declining, mobile operators are expected to shift focus on broadband services to maintain profit margins,” F&S indicated.

The analysis concluded that mobile operators are expected to improve the quality of services through continuous infrastructure investment, such as network capacity upgrade and deployments of new technologies; develop innovative solutions such as cyber cafés for broadband services targeting the mass market and focus on enterprise solutions.

These strategies will help mobile operators sustain their profit margins, it stressed.

By Ekow Quandzie/ghanabusinessnews.com

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