How is the internet improving people’s lives in Africa? [T4A]

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There are five key characteristics reflecting how the internet has “greatly improved” people’s lives in Africa, so says research conducted by On Device Research.

The company, which presented its findings of a survey conducted recently, addressed some key consumption patterns for audiences in Africa and how the internet has changed their lives and the ways they consume content.

“The data is representative of mobile internet users. That means that in the UK it is all smartphones whereas in the African markets the vast majority are feature phone users,” said Alistair Hill of On Device told the audiences at the Tech4Africa conference, which is now in its fifth year.

On Device Research is a mobile survey company. To date the company has conducted over 20-million surveys from 74 countries and work with many of the worlds leading brands.

The data which was a comparative study of mobile users in Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya and the United Kingdom, looked at smart- and feature phone usage in the specified countries. Of the sample of 2 000 mobile users Nigeria and Kenya represented 75% feature phones, South Africa had 60% feature phones, while UK had 100% smartphones users.

Mobile is big in Africa, we know this and it is not news. However, what are people using their mobile devices for and is it improving their lives? Around 55% don’t use a desktop or laptop and about 46% only started to use the internet in the past two years, says Hill.

Lack of alternative methods for these activities that drive the mobile service adoption and the boom as we head toward the US$50 smartphone mobile will only get bigger.

Is the internet making people’s lives better?

The study highlighted the impact of mobile internet in people’s lives. Consumers were asked how much mobile internet improves their lives on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 indicating a great improvement.

According to Hill around two thirds of mobile internet users in Africa stated that it had greatly improved their lives and this is in comparison to the UK where 2 in 5 stated the same.

“Mobile internet is an improvement to consumers in the developed would but it is transformational in Africa,” says Hill. “So when you take that fact and think it is a great opportunity. You have the opportunity to really improve peoples lives.”

Top areas the internet has improved people’s lives in Africa

Top 5 Mobile Internet Characteristics in Africa which ‘Greatly Improved’ people’s lives

Better access to education — Africans noted that access to the internet via mobile meant that they had better access to education and opportunities around education.

More connected to the world — access to the internet also meant better access to the world and connecting with people from around the globe.

Easier to keep in touch with friends and family — communications also ranks highly. Users stated that it was a good way to keep in touch with friends and family.

Better access to entertainment (music, games, movies, etc.) — Africa is hungry for content and users are using their mobile internet for media content.

Easier to pay bills — mobile payments are becoming more and more prevalent in the African context, where many people are unbanked and mobile payment has become the first point of payments and transactions.

“Services where information or alternatives are scares are having the biggest impact,” says Hill. “Mobile Advertising provides a great opportunity for monetization due to frequency of usage of mobile compare to other media challenges.”

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