South Africa - hungry for mobile data: It's the one to watch for mobile internet

in Mobile trends
on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @ 12:09

Often overshadowed by Kenya and Nigeria, it’s easy to forget about the third key up and coming player of the continent - South Africa. The southernmost country is showing impressive growth in anything relating to mobile - be that pure penetration to usage of mobile services to purchasing via mobile.

Our free report (embedded below) covers all the important trends, reveals interesting data about the mobile consumer and how mobile is changing the way South Africans communicate, shop and learn.

Mobile is only going to get bigger…

Key data points:

  • Mobile subscription rate of 134%
  • Biggest Twitter country in Africa
  • 5th largest consumer of mobile data in the world (US is #7)

image south africa 5th largest data user world USA 7th

Impressively 80% of South Africans access the internet purely through their mobile phone. Not only are they high mobile data users, but often it’s their only source of access to the internet. That makes mobile incredibly important in this market.

What mobile ventures already exist in South Africa?

Businesses such as M-PESA have migrated here from Kenya, giving South Africans access to mobile banking, and often, access to their first bank account. Education has also taken advantage of mobile technologies; Nokia have introduced Mobile Mathematics, or Momaths, to empower students and enable them to access mathematic educational resources from their mobile phone.

Dr Math, another mathematics venture, in partnership with Mxit have provided a tutoring service via mobile phones for less than a price of a text.

smartphone feature phone divide in south africa

With great opportunity there are often even greater challenges

Growth for mobile has been hindered partially by lack of infrastructure, and high costs of operating for businesses. Furthermore, many households still have considerable debt. So while they aspire to purchase a smartphone, this may not a be a reality for many of them.

The runaway success story from Kenya, mobile payments system M-PESA, tried first to launch in South Africa three years ago but failed. Unlike in Kenya, they were met with far more regulation which ultimately hindered their success. This is a common experience for startups in South Africa, and without support from the state in simplifying regulations many ventures may fail before they can ever really take off.

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