Internet-hungry Africans are increasingly seeking smartphones
Smartphones are invading Africa, making up more than half of all phone shipments to the continent in 2016.
According to Deloitte’s Africa Mobile Consumer Survey 2015-16, consumers are increasingly choosing smarter devices, which provide them with access to an increasing range of services from almost any location at any time.
The research in Africa centred on 5,000 consumers across urban and rural locations. Respondents included SA, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
Penetration of the smartphone in SA was 99% in urban areas and 83% in rural areas of the country.
This was followed by Nigeria, with 93% penetration in urban areas and 82% in rural.
The feature phone, which can access the internet but lacks the advanced functionality of a smartphone, is popular in Kenya and Uganda, at 55% urban penetration in both countries. Feature phones have a rural penetration of 74% in each of those nations.
The report says Wi-Fi is becoming increasingly omnipresent in Africa, offering consumers an alternative to mobile broadband.
There is a growing trend towards the offloading of mobile data traffic onto Wi-Fi networks.
In SA, the majority of consumers often used different mobile networks such as 2G, 3G and 4G to connect to the internet, but 46% reported using Wi-Fi as their preferred method.
This is high compared to other countries such as Kenya, which reported that 18% of consumers most often used Wi-Fi to connect to the internet. Nigeria reported that 16% used Wi-Fi and Zimbabwe 25%.
While 3G/HSDPA technologies still dominate the majority of markets on the continent, 4G/LTE usage is expected to increase substantially in the coming 12-24 months, thanks to a reduction in the cost of devices and consumers accessing more data-hungry content over the internet.
When it comes to speed, most users are not happy: between 47% and 56% of consumers are satisfied with the internet speeds they currently receive.
This is mirrored by the fact that internet reliability, network coverage and speeds were the deciding factors when it came to choosing network operators. Reliability and network coverage for voice calls and SMS were the second most important factors.
The report found that on average, about 20% of the consumer base would be prepared to pay more for access to faster internet speeds.
But in SA, Nigeria, Uganda and Zimbabwe, the cost of internet is the most important factor influencing consumers’ possible change in network operators.
Most consumers in the countries surveyed bought their phone new, with SA having the largest new phone market. In Zimbabwe, consumers bought 51% of their phone new and the rest used.
When it came to fibre-optic broadband, Africa’s contribution to global fibre demand is only 2.5%. Growth has been healthy at a more than 12.8% compound annual growth rate since 2010.
The report cites a need to increase the use and role of fibre to support the increase in connected devices entering the market.