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Mobile Smartphone Penetration in Africa


In this article we will review:

Over the past few years, mobile phone penetration has gone up on the African continent. Nonetheless, what is the current state of mobile phone usage and the implications on the people? Besides, are there any future predictions over the same subject? This article aims at answering these and more valid questions surrounding mobile phone usage in Africa.

For starters, what even is mobile smartphone penetration? You need to consider three primary factors:

  1. Unique subscriber penetration – this is the number of people owning a mobile smartphone as a representation of the entire population. It is a percentage.
  2. Sim card penetration – it is the total number of sim card connections present in a country or region. It is equally a percentage.
  3. Mobile access penetration – representation of persons using mobile phones regularly. It is regardless of whether they own mobile devices or not. It is also represented as a percentage.

The current mobile smartphone penetration in Africa

In a survey conducted over an extended period, the researchers examined smartphone penetration in select African nations. The table below outlines the results of the study:

Country The overall percentage of people owning mobile phones Percentage of people owning smartphones Percentage of people holding standard cellphones
Ghana 80% 35% 45%
South Africa 91% 51% 40%
Senegal 79% 34% 46%
Tanzania 75% 13% 62%
Kenya 80% 30% 50%
Nigeria 80% 32% 48%

This is a study conducted by the PEW research center study in the year 2007. In the survey, disadvantaged Africans, when it comes to owning smartphones are the less-educated ones. Thanks to the 26% penetration rate that internet connectivity enjoys in Africa, the use of smartphones is set to increase in the coming years.

What is next for smartphones in Africa

By 2025, pundits and researchers argue that the mobile smartphone penetration rate will increase to 40%. While this trajectory is promising, there is still a lot to do before 2025. The fact that mobile technology has become less costly and more widespread is encouraging. This means that more people in Africa will have access to smartphones, which was not the case previously.

The increase in penetration is set to boost the African economy by up to $150 billion.

The benefits of mobile smartphone penetration in Africa

Aside from the fact that the economy will go up, and that communication will be a lot easier, there are several other benefits of mobile smartphone penetration on the African continent. Without proper access to smartphones, nations will lack the right resources needed to expand their GDP.

Smartphone usage is vital to keeping up with innovations and international trade. Kenya’s economy is one good testament to this fact. Since the liberal telecommunications legislation came in, the economy has improved. Thanks to this and other mobile phone penetration laws, Kenya has slowly been a contributing agent to the key technological advancements in the continent. For instance, the innovative mobile banking, IoT technology, and many others.


Wrapping up, we need to track the penetration of smartphones, as this helps to learn growth curves in a region or country.

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