After Access 2018: A Demand-Side View Of Mobile Internet From 10 African Countries

Series 5: After Access-Assessing digital inequality in Africa
Policy Paper no. 7: A Demand-Side View Of Mobile Internet From 10 African Countries

Information communication technology (ICT), and particularly broadband technologies, have been identified as critical drivers of social and economic growth and development. Smartphones, in particular, have revolutionised the telecommunications industry by becoming the principal means of Internet connec- tivity. After years of sluggish uptake of the Internet with the high cost of fixed broadband services, requiring expensive computer connectivity and relatively high digital literacy, the initial rapid mobile Internet adop- tion appears to have flattened out in many countries. In addition, a number of these countries are below the 20% critical mass believed to be necessary to enjoy the network effects associated with improved efficiencies and enhanced information flows for economic growth and innovation.

Research ICT Africa’s (RIA’s) 2018 After Access ICT Access and Use Survey shows that several of the African countries surveyed between 2017 and 2018 are below 15%, with Rwanda and Mozambique at around 10%. The survey results show that, without complementary policies, new digital technologies and Internet-based services simply amplify existing inequalities.

This report examines the state of ICT in the following ten countries: Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho , Mozambique , Nigeria, Rwanda , Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. Of all 10 African countries surveyed, only in South Africa is more than half the population online.

Read this policy paper to learn more about the following issues in the surveyed countries:

  • Critical mass and network effects
  • Mobile phone ownership and the gender gap
  • Household access and use
  • Barriers to internet use among individuals
  • Financial inclusion
  • Internet and virtual work
  • Digital inequality

Suggested citation

Gillwald, A., & Mothobi, O. (2019). A Demand-Side View Of Mobile Internet From 10 African Countries (Policy Paper No. 7; Series 5: After Access – Assessing Digital Inequality in Africa). Research ICT Africa.