Mobile penetration rates will increase to 95% by 2013 from 46% in 2008, according to a new survey of 34 emerging markets by pricing and tariffs research firm Tariff Consultancy.
The report, titled "Emerging Mobile Markets 2008", analysed countries in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America. In Africa, the research firm conducted studies in Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Libya, Morocco and Nigeria.
The report provides overviews of the main trends, operators and new services being launched in each country, as well as a subscriber forecast for the next five years.
"The rapid growth of mobile penetration across the world indicates that these markets will approach maturity more quickly than previously thought," says Margrit Sessions, managing director of Tariff Consultancy.
"By the end of 2013, we are likely to see one SIM [Subscriber Identity Module] card for every person as the norm in most countries," she added.
Although China and India are projected to remain as the two single largest markets, the fastest growth in new mobile subscribers over the next five years is set to come from Afghanistan, Cambodia, Indonesia and Iraq. By 2013, Iraq is forecast to have the highest mobile penetration rate of all of the 34 countries.
"The imminent launch of mobile broadband data services provides an exciting new revenue stream, as users are able to break free of low-speed fixed or dial-up access, which will continue to have relatively poor levels of penetration," says Sessions. "Mobile is going to become the standard for accessing the Internet in many of these countries from now on."
Mobile operators with experience in developing markets are introducing bundled data services into emerging markets, Sessions says. The introduction of new USB (Universal Serial Bus) dongles with flat-rate tariffs, along with larger data allowances, will spur adoption, she says.
The survey identified Nigeria as one of the countries in which new mobile investment is taking place, with the availability of new mobile licences and spectrum continuing to attract investors as the government seeks to raise revenue.