Mobile data traffic will grow 20-fold between 2013 and 2019, according to the Ericsson Mobility Report released last week.

This estimate has led to an assertion from industry insiders that there is a need for increased investment and access to more spectrum.

The report said the region’s mobile data traffic was predicted to grow about 20 times between the end of last year and the end of 2019. Globally, mobile data traffic would grow 10-fold during the same period.

While there are issues around red tape and growth opportunities that may filter into other sectors, the question from commentators is how the new minister of telecommunications will assist in providing the much coveted spectrum.

According to the report, consumers and businesses are increasingly using mobile devices as substitutes or complementary tools.

“For example, many people will purchase a mobile phone instead of a traditional landline in many sub-Saharan households. It is also used as a complementary device, for example to read e-mails, while attachments are opened on desktop/laptop computers,” according to the report.

The growing use of these devices for a multitude of tasks and consumers’ freedom to move from one screen to the next meant mobile traffic would significantly increase in coming years.

The rise in sophistication of social networking platforms had played a role in the growth of mobile traffic. These platforms were used to share and disseminate information: 74 percent of sub-Saharan social network users sent messages to friends, 62 percent checked their friends’ updates, 46 percent uploaded photos and/or videos to social media and 15 percent streamed content from these platforms.

“Such activities will have a ripple effect on the growth of mobile traffic, specifically data traffic, as the concept of sharing evolves. The growing consumption of viral content over mobile devices is a good example of this,” the report says.

Improved network performance would be imperative as increased traffic put a strain on current networks and consumers demanded a seamless user experience.