Mobile Internet to close the Data Divide in Namibia

A nationally representative survey conducted by Research ICT Africa (RIA) in co-operation with the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) from June to August 2011 revealed that 56.2% of Namibians owned a mobile phone and 91.8% of these were prepaid. Of those without a mobile phone, 41% had used one in the past three months and 28% owned an active SIM card. Of those people with a mobile phone 22.7% used it to browse the Internet and 17.3% for using social networking applications such as Facebook. Voice is clearly dominated by prepaid and so is data. Of those that use the mobile to access the Internet 79% are prepaid. For mobile access of social networking applications the prepaid share is 79.7%.

Looking at the Internet use more generally 13.4% of Namibians who are 15 years or older used the Internet in 2011. More than a third of those Internet users, 37.9%, started using the Internet first on a mobile phone. Internet users were asked where they accessed the Internet during the past 12 months and 55.9% accessed it on a mobile telephone, 22.8% in an internet café, 36% at a place of education and 48.4% at work. The mobile is reducing the importance public Internet access facilities. However, 27.1% of those the used the mobile to access the internet also used an internet café for access, hinting to mobile use as being partly complimentary to other sources of access.

The increasing reliance upon the mobile phone and applications that lend themselves to the mobile platform – such as social media – indicate that the mobile phone is a key entry point for Internet adoption in Namibia. The mobile phone is thus not only narrowing the voice gap in Namibia but is being used to reduce the data gap.