8 facts about mobile life in Sub-Saharan Africa


Mobile phone penetration continues to grow at a phenomenal rate and that growth means new users, new experiences, new uses and a new world of opportunity. Anyone interacting with this evolving ecosystem needs to understand mobile behaviour and trends.

Mobile Life is an annual investigation into the behaviours, motivations and priorities of the world’s mobile phone users, covering 48 000 interviews in 58 countries. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the study includes Cameroon, Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. The most recent results revealed the following about the region’s mobile phone users:

1. Smartphones are on the rise. One in five mobile phone users in Sub-Saharan Africa now have a smartphone, with one in three in South Africa and one in four in Nigeria.

2. The mobile phone is the main electronic device used, and hence needs to perform multiple functions. The main other electronic device owned by mobile phone users is a DVD player with 72% of Sub-Saharan Africans having one.

3. There is strong desire to access the internet. The three main reasons to want a smartphone is to surf the internet (38%), to upgrade to a better phone (30%) and to access the latest features and services (26%)

4. Mobile phone users want mobility when accessing the internet, hence a laptop or smartphone are most desired. The device most users are most likely to buy next is a laptop computer (39% of mobile phone users claim they want to do this), followed by a smartphone at 20%. Intention to get a smartphone (most likely) is highest in South Africa (30%), Kenya (27%) and Nigeria (25%).

5. The mobile phone is the preferred device in Sub-Saharan Africa for just about all digital activities, with 43% saying it is their preferred device for browsing the internet. Exceptions are online shopping, viewing and editing documents, reading e-books and downloading or streaming video. For these activities, a laptop is preferred.

6. Nokia still reigns supreme on the African sub-continent. A little over half of all mobile phone users owning a Nokia as their main phone. Samsung is a distant second at 11% and Blackberry 3rd at just under 6%.

7. People stick with the brands they love. When buying a next phone, brand of handset is the most important choice criteria (20%), followed by battery life (15%) and then making voice calls (11%).

8. Battery life is a key need for mobility. The most important accessories mobile phone users are looking for are; a spare battery (64%), an additional memory card (46%) and a stereo Bluetooth headset (35%).

Data used in this article is sourced from TNS Mobile Life survey.



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