Research just released shows that at the of end 2008, there were 1.47 active mobile phone accounts in South Africa per user. The figures show 50 million phones in the country – but the entire population is somewhere around 48 million, including those too young or too old to have a mobile.
By those estimates, there are roughly 34 million mobile phone users in South Africa. What causes the 16 million device disparity between users and active accounts? There are a number of reasons, according to World Wide Worx:
- Many users own more than one device – in order to avoid high interconnection charges between networks.
- A new SIM can cost as little as 50c. So it’s cheap for people to have multiple SIMs for one device.
- The introduction of pre-paid accounts saw SIM usage soar
- Poor fixed internet infrastructure makes mobile devices the primary access for banking, advertising and internet access
Via Engineering News
From the report:
RIM Regional Director for Sub Sahara Africa Deon Liebenberg: “The research should paint an interesting picture of how people and businesses in South Africa are using their smartphones to be more productive and efficient. It will be particularly interesting to see what the latest trends in the mobile Internet space are. We believe that there is a massive opportunity to bring mobile Internet services to more of the country’s people through affordable pre-paid services.”
What we think?
I like this story. South Africa has an incredibly vibrant mobile market – we’ve seen real innovations in mobile money, mobile marketing and other mobile services in that country. There has been developments with slightly lower tech mobile services. Payments, Java apps and other services that need to be imaginatively adapted so they can run on lower-end phones get great development in SA.