Africa has embraced mobile like few other regions of the world have, with some of the highest mobile penetration rates and the majority of internet users accessing content online via their mobiles.
Whether one considers online banking, apps for healthcare, connecting through social media or voting for a political party, Africans have fully embraced mobile technology and all of its possibilities.
Mobile phones have now become indispensable, with most people choosing to take their phones rather than their wallets when leaving home if forced to choose between the two.
Here are the 12 things you didn’t know about how Africans have embraced mobile.
Currently, there are 293.8 million smartphone users across Africa, as feature phones begin to be phased out by the growing middle class on the continent. Researchers predict that there will be 929.9 million smartphones in Africa by the year 2021, due to consistently high growth in the market.
The proliferation and popularity of mobile has been so great across the continent, that landlines have struggled to get off the ground in Africa, with a small percentage of people choosing to have a fixed-line telephone in favor of mobile.
With 81 percent of the total African population using a mobile device, the majority of African internet traffic is accessed via mobile devices as opposed to a computer or tablet. The latest figures in Nigeria confirm that around 91 percent of Nigerian internet traffic is accessed via mobile, and many other African countries follow a similar pattern.
Many industries in Africa have been positively affected by mobile technology. One example is agriculture, with farmers able to consult apps or sites via their mobile devices to check the weather or decide when to harvest crops.
The concept of mobile money has been around for a while now, but nowhere has it taken off as well as in Kenya, where mobile remittance services have gained great traction. A total of 17 million Kenyans use M-Pesa through its network of 40,000 agents and an estimated 25 percent of Kenya’s gross national product flows through the channel.
For many Africans who do not have access to radio or television during parts of the day, social media on their mobile phones has become the primary source of news and entertainment, with concerns around fake news on social media amplified by that fact.
Somalia has become one of the most competitive telecoms markets in Africa, thanks to the rapid growth of mobile in the country, boasting some of the lowest international call rates on the continent.
Mobile technology has been used in Africa to ensure democracy. In Nigeria during the 2011 elections, a mobile app called ReVoDa turned eligible voters into informal election observers and, allowed monitoring organizations to draw conclusions about the legitimacy and accuracy of the elections.
Cheaper mobile devices combined with the surge in educational app development means that many learners in African countries now access quality educational media outside of the classroom, and this is fast becoming the future of education across the continent.
Africans love sport, and Africans love accessing the internet via their mobile phones. Those two aspects were destined to coincide and Africans have taken to sports betting through mobile apps and mobi sites, making wagers on the teams and players they love to support.
In a study conducted by Opera, it was determined that Ghanaians, Kenyans, Seychellois, and Mauritians are the highest data users on the continent with an average usage of over 160MB/month – fairly high by African standards.
Research from Opera software suggests that the increase in smartphone penetration has led to a greater demand and enjoyment of video streaming and content rich websites and applications. Opera revealed that 2016 is the first year that smartphone imports in Africa have outweighed feature phones.