Swedish-based telecommunications giant, Ericsson, said it had benefitted immensely from Africa’s vibrant mobile phone industry, with sales soaring up to € 400 million this year alone.
Ericsson Managing Director Thomas Sonesson confirmed Wednesday that the firm made its highest-ever sales this year, since its formal entry into Africa in about a decade, with new SIM card sales soaring as demand for mobile phone network infrastructure continues to grow. “We have been very successful in Africa, there has been a huge uptake of our services,” Sonesson said.
Ericsson said its successful business in East Africa, especially after it opened a regional office in Kenya, was more impressive, necessitating the need for additional skilled staff. “We had a staff of more than 80 skilled staff last year, but by mid July this year, we had a staff of 248 skilled staff and we are talking about more skilled staff. We have had to expand our office space to accommodate 350 skilled people, minus unskilled workers,” he said.
Ericsson covers 43 African countries with a combined population of 586 million people, served by about 60 mobile phone network operators and 20 fixed line operators. Africa is rated as the fastest growing mobile telephone market, which is expected to hit 4 billion globally by 2011.
Ericsson said that means that new methods must be developed to ensure that most people who earn less than US$2 a day were also able to get services.
The increasing use of mobile phones has been touted as a potential solution to some of Africa’s under-development crises. For instance, the acquisition of a mobile phone in rural Africa enables many people to access the latest food prices, increasing bargaining power for millions of poor farmers. It also increases individual spending ability.