Mobile internet “greatly improved” lives of 63% of Africans

By Tom Jackson, South Africa

Sixty-three per cent of mobile internet users in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa have said their lives have been “greatly improved” by being able to access internet via their mobiles, compared to 41 per cent in the United Kingdom (UK).

Research by On Device Research, a global mobile research specialist, found mobile internet is fundamentally changing lives in Africa more than in developed markets such as the UK where it is only bringing incremental improvements

The survey found 13 categories which greatly improved people’s lives in Africa, including the likes of better access to education, paying bills, easier access to healthcare information, and feeling more connected to the world. In the UK, only navigation and keeping in touch with friends and relatives scored as high.

“For many Africans mobile is the only way to connect with the world and internet is having a huge impact on people’s lives. It’s helping them save time, money, it gives them access to education, medical information,” said Alistair Hill, chief executive officer (CEO) of On Device Research.

“In comparison, Brits stated that only maps or navigation apps, and entertainment services have really improved their lives. The story is clear - mobile internet is a step change in Africa but just an incremental improvement in the UK (or any developed market) as most Brits have alternative ways to access the internet.”

The study also found mobile is fast becoming the most important media channel, with nearly half of mobile internet users only or mainly going online using their phone. Mobile has also become a more important media channel than television, with 79 per cent of people using their phones daily compared to 63 per cent with television.

“This is both an opportunity and a challenge for advertisers as mobile offers better targeting and tracking of ad campaigns but finding the right audiences can be initially a challenge,” On Device Research said.

“Very high familiarity with mobile banking and payment services, 73 per cent use their phone for these activities, offers a fertile ground for paid content and services.”

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