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Sub-Saharan Africa's smartphone penetration at 33%

Sub-Saharan Africa's smartphone penetration at 33%

Sub-Saharan Africa's smartphone penetration stands at 33%, significantly higher than the 15% recorded in 2014, and market analysts predict this will double by 2025.

This is according to research by the Pew Research Centre, conducted in Kenya, Tanzania, Senegal, Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa.

South Africa has 51% smartphone penetration which contributes to the country's online figures.

"South Africa (59%) is the only country in the region where at least half the population is online," the report stated.

The other five countries sampled have less than 40% penetration: Ghana (35%), Senegal (34%), Nigeria (32%), Kenya (30%) and Tanzania (13%)

Although Sub-Saharan Africa has the lowest smartphone penetration compared to global counterparts, the outlook is favourable in terms of growth.

"The number of people connected to the internet is likely to continue to rise, too; industry projections suggest that the smartphone adoption rate in sub-Saharan Africa will double by 2025," the report noted.

Mobile money

Along with an increase in smartphone ownership among adults, the research also stated that smartphone users in Sub-Saharan Africa are more likely to use mobile money and the texting service than feature phone users.

"Social activities and sending and receiving money are some of the most common mobile phone-based activities because they can be done both from a basic phone – one that does not connect to the internet – or from a smartphone. But even though they can be done at equal rates, people with smartphones are much more likely to use their phones for these types of activities," stated the Pew Research Centre.

In Ghana 79% of smartphone users sent text messages in the last 12 months compared to 33% sent by feature phone users.

"In South Africa, while nearly all smartphone owners (95%) say they have used their phone to send text messages, only 66% of basic phone owners say the same," the report said.

Similar disparities are displayed in use of mobile money. "South Africa's smartphone owners (54%) are also more likely than basic phone owners (25%) to make or receive payments via mobile phone."

According to GSMA's Mobile Economy report for Africa, smartphone ownership on the continent totals 440 million. The organisation predicts that this will increase to 690 million by 2025.

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