WhatsApp is hurting mobile revenue growth in Africa—and telcos want to fight back
Mobile revenue growth has declined in sub- Saharan Africa since 2013 and is expected to continue its downward trend until the end of the decade—despite a fast-growing subscriber base.
Much of the drop has been attributed to the use of over-the-top (OTT) messaging services like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. With more subscribers showing a preference to chat and and make voice calls via these platforms, there’s an “increasing cannibalization of traditional voice and messaging revenues,” according to a new Mobile Economy report by the GSM Association (GSMA) trade organization.
Unlike in more advanced markets, phone operators in sub-Saharan Africa are still investing in adding voice users which along with SMS text messages drives the majority of revenue. The region is expected to add another 100 million subscribers in the next three years. This is all happening as smartphone penetration and mobile-data networks also grow—and with more users starting to use apps like WhatsApp, Messenger and Skype.
Photo courtesy of Simon Berry.