Graphic Business News

Ghana’s internet access steers growth in media• Industry to exceed US$1bn this year

By: Kester Aburam Korankye

Ghana’s Entertainment and Media (E&M) industry is set to increase from US$1 billion in 2019 to US$1.5 billion in 2022 on the back of high internet penetration over the past few years. 

The budding industry, riding on the back of reliable internet access, has more than tripled in value since 2013, with the total revenue reaching US$752 million in 2017.

Research by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) on the growth trends in the E&M industry suggested that expenditure on internet access accounts for much of the revenue, and growth.

“The country’s telecom market in general is projected to maintain high growth over the next five years to 2022. The digital services segment, comprising mobile data, mobile financial services, e-commerce and ICT enterprise, among others, will remain a key revenue driver for service providers”, the report said.

The report is a yearly publication that takes a deep dive into the data and analysis of researchers and industry specialists on the E&M industry in Africa.

Shift in competition
Given that growth in the industry would largely be driven by internet access, the report suggested that competition in the telecommunications sector would shift from voice to mobile financial services and broadband segments in the coming years.

Mobile Internet access revenue alone, according to the report, would exceed US$1 billion in 2022, growing at an 18.1 per cent with the rollout of the 4G spectrum in the 800MHz band.

In 2017, MTN Ghana became the first telecommunications operator to be granted a licence, and has since launched a commercial 4G LTE network. Vodafone Ghana also secured a licence in December 2018, although it is yet to launch a commercial 4G LTE network.

The projected growth in internet access revenue could propel quality and reliable services from operators.

Pay-tv struggle
With regard to growth in the media, the report suggested that TV and video revenue was the only segment to have exceeded US$100 million in 2017 although pay-TV was struggling for growth with subscriptions relatively flat and additions primarily focussed on entry-level low ARPU packages.

“This leaves the Ghanaian market relying on consistent economic growth and strong business confidence for advertising to thrive, but with Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth on a strong path to 2022, TV advertising revenue will rise from US$73 million in 2017 to US$112 million in 2022.

With overall double-digit growth seen in video games and music, and continued momentum to the radio market, growth to 2022 without internet access will still be robust,” the report suggested.

Promising future
 With more than 15 million mobile internet subscribers forecasted for 2022, the report said it would provide a promising base for digital revenue from consumers with gradually increasing purchasing power.

“In video games, for instance, app-based social/casual revenue is set to move from US$0.5 million in 2013 to US$7.0 million in 2022 as mobile payments become normalised.

“Meanwhile, online/microtransaction PC games revenue will approach US$13 million in the same year, thanks to growing numbers of players who access gaming hardware through work or Internet cafés and make smaller, more-occasional purchases in ‘freemium’ games,” the report suggested.

The report also suggested that it may be too early for internet video platforms to focus more attention on Ghana and begin to offer local original productions although Netflix and Amazon Prime have both been present since 2016.

“This market is set to double over five years to reach US$5.9 million,” the report said.

Better pricing policy

Reacting to the projected growth due to internet access, the Chief Executive Officer of the Broadband Communications Chamber (BBCC), Mr Gustav Tamakloe, told the GRAPHIC BUSINESS that the findings in the report was an indication that better spectrum pricing policies were needed to rake in the gains expected from the internet boom to improve the economic and social welfare of the population that remain unconnected to mobile broadband services.

“The current pricing policy is unfortunate and goes only to limit the numerous benefits including better health care, education and simply making it harder to eradicate poverty and the achievement of financial inclusion, gender equity and Universal Broadband Access,” Mr Tamakloe said.

The BBCC has advocated that the current cost of the 4G/LTE spectrum, which stands at US$67.5 million, stifles universal broadband access and could hurt the growth expected from increased internet access.