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Impact of Africa’s
Mobile Internet
Revolution

Photo: Maureen

Mobile internet is genuinely
improving the lives of people in
A recent survey in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and the UK showed that access
Africa
to the mobile internet has a life changing impact on majority of respondents.
Mobile internet has made a “great improvement” on my life
62
%

61
%
41
%

Keny
a
Source: On Device Research, survey of mobile
Countries: Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, n=1500,
internet users

Niger
ia

South
Africa

U
K

O

The importance of mobile
(internet)

Step change vs incremental improvement – for many
African’s mobile is the way to access online services and
resources. It is impossible to overestimate the impact

that mobile phones and the mobile internet is having on
the continent.

In comparison, for people in the UK mobile was just
another way to access info and services already

O

This report presents findings from research with

2,000 mobile internet users in Kenya, Nigeria, South
Africa and the UK. Key aspect of the study was to
compare the eff ects of mobile internet between
developing and developed markets.

The study was conducted by On Device Research, a
mobile research company, in October 2014 with a

representative sample of mobile internet users in each

On Device Research uses the
mobile internet to gain access
to consumer opinions at any
time or place.
The company has conducted over 20
million surveys in 75 countries, and
has offi ces in London, Dubai and
Singapore.

UK
Population: 64
million GPD per
capita: $39,350

Nigeri
a
Population: 155

Kenya
Population: 44
million GDP per
capita: $994

South
Africa
Population: 53
million GDP per
capita: $6,617

Keny
a

Popula' o n
Internet
penetra ' on
Mobile penetra' on
Smartphone
penetra ' on
Urban dwellers
Sources: GSMA Intelligence, Internet World Stats, Strategy

44
million

Nigeri
a

155
million

South
Africa

53
million

47
%

38
%

49
%

70
%

72
%

133
%

31
%

29
%

47
%

25
%

50
%

62
%

How exactly has mobile internet
“greatly improved” people’s
lives in Africa?

!

w

Better
access to
education

More
connected to
the world

Source: On Device Research, survey of mobile
internet users Countries: Kenya, Nigeria, South

< S
>
Better access
to
entertainment
(music, games,
movies)

h
Easier to
keep in
touch with
friends and
family

#
Easier
to pay
bills

Brits, in comparison, named only 2
things that have “greatly
improved” their lives

h

n

Easier to keep in
touch with friends
and family

Easier to find
places using
maps

Source: On Device Research, survey of mobile
internet users Countries: Kenya, Nigeria, South

Africans rated 14 different attributes with an average of 4 or higher (on a
5-point scale) while Brits rated only two as having such a great
impact on their lives.
Africa
UK
Better access to education

4.42

3.70

I feel more connected to the world

4.41

3.86

Easier to keep in touch with friends and family

4.40

4.01

Better access to entertainment (music, games, movies)

4.38

3.95

Payments to businesses / pay bills

4.36

3.52

Easier to follow news

4.34

3.92

Send money to someone

4.29

3.71

Easier to find places using maps on the phone

4.28

4.19

Meeting new people and making friends

4.20

3.81

Easier to find health related info

4.15

3.89

Find work related info

4.14

3.45

Send airtime to someone

4.03

2.48

New ways to do business

4.02

3.74

Check bank balance

3.99

3.77

Source: On Device Research, survey of mobile
internet users Countries: Kenya, Nigeria, South

Access to information provides a
real improvement to people’s
lives of people that stated these provided a
%
66
%

68
%

“great improvement”
58
%
44
%

Online learning /
education

Source: On Device Research, survey of mobile
internet users Countries: Kenya, Nigeria, South

55
%

56
%

62
%

57
%
33
%

Find work related info
Keny
a

Nigeria

South Africa
UK

60
%

50
%
28
%

Use health & medical
sites / apps

The introduction of the mobile internet in
Africa is far more transformative than most
people in modern countries realise. It’s not
just a slight improvement, it’s a step change.
Alistair
Hill CEO, On Device
Research

Playing catch
up
Data speeds, cost, and network
coverage combined with lower
smartphone penetration means that
use of maps, video and other data
heavy and complex services, is
significantly lower than in the UK.
Maps available for some African
countries aren’t exactly great either
and the impact on usage is
immediate.

n

On average, only 25% use maps
for navigating in Africa (44% in
the UK)
44%
36%

20
%

Keny
a
Source: On Device Research, survey of mobile
internet users Countries: Kenya, Nigeria, South

18
%

Niger
ia

South
Africa

U
K

However, as people upgrade to
smart- phones the usage of maps
jumps up! Maps usage by device type
48%
42%

28%
14
%

Keny
a

Source: On Device Research, survey of mobile
internet users Countries: Kenya, Nigeria, South

14
%

12
%

Feature
phone

Niger
ia

Smartph
one

South
Africa

66
%
60
%

Using

47
%
45
%
32
%

h
searc

c h in
Wa t
cl i p s

d eo
g vi

48
%
44
%

14
%

Feature
phone
Source: On Device Research, survey of mobile
internet users Countries: Kenya, Nigeria, South

Smartph
one

N

Similar
is
jump
seen
in
activiti
other
es
as
upgrade
people
to
smartphon
es

Biggest
mobile in
Africa?
Listening to
music!

Most popular activities on
mobile
Download / listen to music
Social media

54%

Search for information

52%

Take photos

52%

Send airtime

47
%
46%

Play games
Instant messaging

46%

Check email

45%

Watch short video clips

38%

Local and global news

36%

Source: On Device Research, survey ofFollow sports
mobile
internet users Countries: Kenya, Nigeria, South

news

34%

67%

Older
people

65%

Instant messaging
Find jobs

News

Listen to radio
Email

% Over 25

Watch video

Search

Send air5me
55%
Play games
50%

Social media

Take photos
Higher % of

60%

Listen to music
Online learning /
educa5on

45%
19%

21%

Source: On Device Research, survey of mobile
internet users Countries: Kenya, Nigeria, South

23%

% Female

25%

Size of the Bubble = Popularity
27%
29%

:

Mobile
internet
beats TV…
Advertisers

Mobile internet has become the
largest media channel in
Africa
Q. How often do you use the following media
channels?

7
%
13
%

79
%

Mobile
internet
Source: On Device Research, survey of mobile
internet users Countries: Kenya, Nigeria, South

16
%
17
%

63
%

T
V
Dai
ly

26
%
19
%
49
%
Radi
o
Several times a
week

34
%
16
%
34
%
Desktop
internet
Less ofen
Never

44
%
19
%
24
%
Read
newspaper

Usage of mobile banking or
payment services
75
%

Keny
a

Niger
ia

Source: On Device Research, survey of mobile
internet users Countries: Kenya, Nigeria, South

63
%

South
Africa

58
%

U
K

Mass adoption of mobile
money
South Africa is lagging a bit but there’s still still
significant adoption
49

56
% 51
%

%
35
%

7
%
Send airtime
to
someone

16
%

24
%

42
37 %
%

35
32 %
%
16 14 17
% % %

21
%
10%

16
%

12%
Check bank
balance

Send money
to
someone
Keny
a

Source: On Device Research, survey of mobile
internet users Countries: Kenya, Nigeria, South

Niger
ia

Payments to
businesses / pay
bills
South
Africa

11%

13%

9 10
% %

Buy or sell things
with
other people
U
K

25
18 %
%

None of these

Africa
on their
phone?

Nearly half of respondents only or
mainly go online using their
phones
Q. How often do you use internet on a
computer?

15%
22%
Dai
ly
Several times a
week
Infreque
ntly
Mobile-only
internet users

40
%

45%
only
or
mostly go online
with
their
phones
23
%

46% went online for the first time
on their phone in the past 2
years
Q. When did you first use your phone for online
services?

During the
last year 1-2

29
%

30
%

years ago
2-5 years
ago Over 5
years ago
17%
24%

Mobile internet
users in Africa reflect
– they’re
the population very
young
52
%

44%
42%

38
%

45
%

38
%

6
%
1624

2534
Keny
a

Niger
ia

7
%

13
%

3544
South
Africa

7
%

4%
4%
45
+

Find out more + request data in
Excel
If you’d like to take a deeper look at the findings (including additional questions,
data points and gender splits), then get in touch!

Siim T
eller, Head of
Marketing
siim@ondeviceresearch.com
@teller
+44 20 7278 6627

Global Mobile Panels &
Research

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D

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Y

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