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Mobile internet changing lives in Africa

by Sam Wakoba
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MobileFarmersAccording to the report below:

  • 63% in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa see “great improvement” to their lives thanks to the mobile internet
  • In comparison, only 41% of people in the UK claim the same
  • 45% go online only or mainly via their phone
  • Nearly 1/3 of the mobile internet population came online in the last 12 months
  • Mobile internet is now the biggest media channel, beating TV.

A new report by On Device Research, a global mobile research specialist finds that the lives of mobile internet users in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa have been greatly improved by gaining access to internet on their phone.

The study was also done in the UK to compare the effects of the mobile internet in developing and developed markets. Compared to 63% of Africans who stated “great improvement” by access to the mobile internet, only 41% of the Brits claimed the same.

Of all the categories analysed in the survey, 13 categories of behavior in Africa greatly improved people’s lives. These included things like better access to education, helping to pay bills, easier access to healthcare info, and feeling more connected to the world.

In comparison in the UK only 2 categories – navigating, and keeping in touch with friends and family – 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, 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,” Hill continued.

Mobile is fast becoming the most important media channel

A key finding of the study was that nearly half of mobile internet users only or mainly go online using their phone. Phone has also become more important media channel with 79% saying they use it daily. Only 63% view TV every day.

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.

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

The research was conducted via a mobile survey with a representative sample of 2,000 mobile internet users both on smartphone and feature phone. Data was collected in early October, 2014.

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