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Plenty of demand for UMTS in Africa

Although take up will be slower in Africa than the rest of the world, third generation mobile services will be worth more than $7 billion in the region by the year 2010, according to a new report.

Third generation mobile services in Africa will be worth more than $7 billion by 2010, according to a new report.

The study by The UMTS Forum, a global industry body, entitled “The UMTS Third Generation Market – Phase II: Structuring the Service Revenue Opportunities,” says that voice will be the major revenue stream in Africa.

UMTS services will be vital for bridging the digital divide, providing a more cost effective route for operators to deliver internet access and other services to the region, according to the report.

Commercial 3G services are expected to start in limited areas, such as Egypt and South Africa, around 2004/2005, with the rest of the region catching up by around 2008.

“The UMTS Forum’s detailed study indicates that the total mobile market in Africa will grow to 200 million by 2010, a reasonable percentage of which will undoubtedly be 3G users,” said Dr Bernd Eylert, UMTS Forum chairman.

“In the same timescale, the forum predicts that 3G revenues in the continent will exceed $7 billion in year 2010. Mobile internet access will obviously generate significant revenues – since fixed-line access is not predicted to improve greatly over the decade – and another major revenue earner will be mobile intranet access for enterprises.”

Of six forecasted services, the report says that “simple voice” and “customised infotainment” will represent the biggest share of revenues for Africa, earning approximately 30% of total 3G revenues in the region each. Multimedia messaging and location based services will contribute significantly less, says the study.

The group is optimistic about 3G in Africa, although it warns that uptake will be slower than in other regions.

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