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    Mobile World Congress 2013 spotlights sub-Saharan Africa

    At the Mobile World Congress 2013 opening in Barcelona on 25 February 2013, a conference session panel discussion will be held on Sub-Saharan Africa; its opportunities and challenges.

    It is one of the fastest-growing regions globally for mobile penetration, usage and revenues. While the world has been rocked by economic crises, the region's mobile ecosystem has seen continued subscription growth and now accounts for over 730 million connections, according to global management consulting firm A T Kearney. This makes it one of the world's largest pools of mobile subscribers. Buoyed by the innovation of homegrown entrepreneurs, it has played a significant role in applying mobile to verticals such as education, healthcare and finance.

    There are, however, significant challenges for Sub-Saharan Africa as a region, such as maintaining operator profitability and revenues as mobile penetration spreads to less affluent customers; and ensuring regulation keeps pace with the potential of the region. The solutions that arise have the potential to be a blueprint for the mobile industry across the rest of the planet.

    Panel experts

    Bradley Shaw, South African managing editor of Africa Telecoms magazine, will chair the panel discussion, taking place on 26 February. Other members include:

    • Sifiso Dabengwa, group president and CEO, MTN Group
    • Manoj Kohli, CEO (International) and joint MD, Bharti Airtel
    • Omobola Johnson, Minister of Communication Technology, Nigeria
    • Lars Linden, head of Ericsson, Region Sub-Saharan Africa, Ericsson
    • George Ferreira, COO, Samsung Electronics Africa
    • Nic Rudnick, CEO, Liquid Telecom

    In addition to the conference session promising to spark hot debate, it is hoped that some resolution can also be achieved to the common issues generated by the exponential growth in this sector across the continent.

    This will be Shaw's fourth visit to the world's largest gathering of mobile-focused organisations and individuals which last year hosted over 67 000 attendees. He said that the importance of the Sub-Saharan region had grown substantially each year, attracting increasing numbers of delegates seeking fresh opportunities and knowledge.

    "Africa is an exciting space for the mobile industry as a whole," said Shaw. "Through mere necessity beset by the unique challenges presented across the continent, it continually evolves and shifts, often producing pioneering innovation picked up by the rest of the world."

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