Mobile World Congress, a series of events organised around the world by the mobile industry association the GSMA, is coming to Africa for the first time next year.
The GSMA, which represents about 750 mobile operators from around the world, will host MWC21 Africa in Kigali, Rwanda in 2021. It adds to the Mobile World Congress trade shows held in China (Shanghai) and the US (Los Angeles), and to the flagship event, MWC Barcelona, which was cancelled in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
GSMA director-general Mats Granryd announced the news during his opening keynote address at Thrive Africa, the association’s virtual event platform.
“Around the world, access to mobile Internet is helping close the digital divide. Its transformative power is nowhere more obvious than in Africa. That is why I’m excited about welcoming the world to Kigali next year to shine a light on African mobile and tech innovation,” Granryd said.
Meanwhile, the GSMA has published its annual Mobile Economy Sub-Saharan Africa report to coincide with Thrive Africa. The report shows the region remains the fastest growing worldwide, with 477 million mobile subscribers at the end of 2019, with an additional 137 million subscribers over the period to 2025, representing a compound annual growth rate of 4.3%.
“Notably, 272 million are now mobile Internet users, representing 26% of the population,” the report said.
The report includes a range of policy recommendations that will “help ensure that mobile Internet makes the best possible contribution to the regional economy, particularly in light of the Covid-19 pandemic”.
In 2019, mobile technologies and services generated 9% of GDP in sub-Saharan Africa, a contribution of more than US$155-billion, the GSMA said.