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Out of 5bn smartphones users worldwide, only 436m in sub-Sahara Africa—GSMA

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More facts have emerged on why the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) said in Lagos on Tuesday that IPv6 is very urgent in Nigeria for being among fastest growing ICT nations.

Part of the facts came from the latest report by GSMA, leading telecoms research group who said the number of mobile phone subscribers in the world has reached five billion, and sub-Sahara Africa is the least penetrated with 436 million unique subscribers. GSMA Intelligence tracks the number of unique mobile subscribers worldwide in real time at

The GSMA defines a ‘unique mobile subscriber’ as an individual person that can account for multiple ‘mobile connections’, that is SIM cards. GSMA Intelligence monitors in real time, as mobile phone companies around the world add to their list of subscribers.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 2017 International Workshop on IPV6 and INRM, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof Umar Danbatta explained the reason why Internet Protocol (IP) version 6 is very crucial to Nigeria, noting that “While the exhaustion of IPv4 addresses is a global phenomenon, the need for IPv6 is even more urgent in Nigeria a location to the fastest growing ICT Industry. IPv6 will enable an enormous increase in the number of Internet addresses currently available under IPv4”.

According to GSMA Intelligence, the world’s five billion unique mobile subscribers today account for approximately 7.7 billion mobile connections – excluding mobile-to-mobile (M2M).

The group said “The five billion milestone means that more than two-thirds of the global population is now connected to a mobile service. It has taken four years to add the latest one billion subscribers”.

Mats Granryd, the Director General of the GSMA said, “Reaching the five billion subscriber milestone is a tremendous achievement for an industry that is only a few decades old, and reflects the many billions of dollars that mobile operators have invested in networks, services and spectrum over many years.”

“Today mobile is a truly global platform, delivering connectivity and, perhaps more importantly, social and economic opportunities to citizens in all corners of the world. This massive reach allows the mobile industry to be a key player in delivering global initiatives such as the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals1,” he added.

GSMA noted further that more than half, that is 55 per cent of mobile subscribers are based in the Asia Pacific region, which is home to the world’s two largest mobile markets: China and India.

“China accounts for more than a billion of the world’s subscribers, while India accounts for 730 million,” it said.

Whereas the most highly penetrated region in the world is Europe, where 86 per cent of citizens are subscribed to a mobile service, sub-Saharan Africa is the least penetrated region at 44 per cent.

“This number is calculated using GSMA Intelligence’s extensive database of mobile statistics and forecasts, which comprises tens of millions of individual data points, updated daily,” it said.


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