GSMA’s Mobile Economy Projections for 2020

Mobile phone subscribers are expected to surge by 1 billion over the next five years, going up from 3.6 to 4.6 billion by 2020, says a new GSMA report expecting the boom to significantly contribute to global GDP, public funding and jobs. 

‘The Mobile Economy: 2015’ report issued at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) – one of the world’s biggest mobile events held March 2-5 in Barcelona – expects around 60 percent of the global population to subscribe to mobile services five years from now, up from 50 percent in 2014.

Source: GSMA, The mobile Economy 2015 #MWC15

The report forecasts a rise in smartphone adoption along with a rapid migration to broadband as 3G/4G become more available and affordable. Mobile data services and applications are expected to grow accordingly.

“Fuelled by the growing range of new services and applications, data traffic is expected to see an almost ten-fold increase by 2019,” says the report adding that mobile operators progressively monetize this explosion in data traffic.

Regulatory pressures along with sluggish subscriber growth rates that slowed down the industry’s revenue growth over the past few years are expected to continue to affect the Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR), bringing it down from 4% to 3.1% over the coming five years. 

As the mobile ecosystem expands, the industry that contributed USD 3 trillion to the global economy, equivalent to 3.8% of global GDP, will continue to become a significant contributor to public funding and employment worldwide. 

“By 2020, mobile technology is predicted to generate a total economic value of nearly USD 4 trillion, increasing the sector’s global GDP contribution to 4.2%,” says the report describing the mobile industry as a “cornerstone of the global economy.” 

Around 12.8 million people were directly employed by the mobile industry worldwide in 2014, expected to jump to 15.3 million by 2020. The industry’s USD 411 billion public funding (taxation and social security contributions) is estimated to reach USD 465 billion in 2020. 

“If policymakers and regulators encourage investment, competition and innovation, both the mobile sector and the wider digital economy will expand, creating prosperity and new jobs,” the report says.

Source: GSMA, The Mobile Economy 2015 #MWC15

Sara El-Khalili

Independent trainer and consultant in the field of journalism and mass communication. El-Khalili has been working in the field for over 15 years. She started her journalism career in the late nineties where she covered political and business news for the Associated Press, Reuters and Cairo Times. She taught media writing and reporting courses for seven years as an Adjunct Faculty member at the American University in Cairo. El-Khalili joined Thomson Reuters Foundation as a trainer in 2012. She now manages the corporate communications department at TA telecom.