Mobile Industry Makes a Long-Distance Call to Africa

Photograph by Brent Lewiin/Bloomberg

Huawei Technologies, China's largest phone-equipment maker, forecasts significant growth in Africa.

With wireless service and equipment sales growth in the developed world slowing, some companies in the mobile-phone industry are setting their sights on Africa.

Demand for smartphones and mobile services is poised to grow significantly for Huawei Technologies, Li Dafeng, a company president for the region, told Bloomberg News. Huawei, China’s largest phone-equipment maker, said that revenue in southern and eastern Africa may increase as much as 30 percent in the next three years as growth on the continent outpaces most other regions.

Meanwhile, Vodacom Group, the largest provider of mobile-phone services to South Africans, reported its earnings per share excluding one-time items jumped 22 percent, as revenue throughout much of Africa increased. Outside of South Africa, the company’s revenues rose 36 percent in the six-month period ending in September. Vodacom’s overall service revenue is expected to grow in the low single digits.

Less than 5 percent of Africans have mobile broadband subscriptions, compared with more than 10 percent in the rest of the world, according to the International Telecommunications Union, a Geneva-based industry group. Over the next five years, the continent is expected to be the fastest growing region in terms of mobile-phone connections, according to A.T. Kearney, the Chicago-based consultancy.

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