It’s no secret that mobile is the medium for Africa — millions use mobile-only social networks, young cellphone users are driving the growth of Twitter on the continent and mobile payment systems are major ecommerce players. Wondering why? It may have something to do with the fact that mobile penetration in Africa is currently around 65%, it’s the second biggest mobile market in the world and smartphones are outselling traditional computers four to one.
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The Praekelt Foundation, a South African-based organisation which aims to use mobile to improve the lives of people living in poverty, has detailed the explosive growth of mobile in a new video. When the first mobile phone network was launched in 1994, internet connections in countries like Nigeria were practically non-existent, and there were only 100 000 landlines for over 100-million citizens. Now there are more cellphones Uganda than lightbulbs — and it only took 18 years.
Mobile phones have revolutionised access to health services, banking, education, entertainment and information for many Africans. Now farmers can use their phones to check storm warnings and receive SMSes reminding them to take their chronic medication.
Mobile is gaining power internationally too: globally, mobile is responsible for 10% of internet traffic. But it’s an even greater force in Africa: more than half of internet connections on the continent are exclusively on mobile.