Internet going mobile: Internet access and usage in 11 African countries

Policy Brief 2, 2012

With computer and Internet penetration in most countries still very low, the mobile phone is increasingly becoming key entry point for Internet adoption on the continent. This is one of the main findings of the 2011/2012 ICT access and usage household and individual survey which reports that the emergence of Internet enabled mobile phones and lower bandwidth adaptations of applications, particularly social media, is driving the rapid diffusion of mobile internet.


1. Mobile ownership has reached critical mass. Mobile phone ownership in most African countries has increased and except Ethiopia and Rwanda it is higher than 40% critical mass threshold in voice networks, believed to trigger the network effects associated with economic growth.

2. Social networking is substituting emails. In most of the countries analysed social networking applications (such as Facebook) through the mobile phone is higher than using it to read and write emails, indicating a substitution effect of the email with social networking platforms.

3. Low individual computer usage. The level of computer usage is still very low in all the countries analysed, except in South Africa and Kenya.

4. Internet going mobile. Although the Internet penetration in most countries is still low, more than 70% of Ugandans and 67% of Ethiopians Internet users first used the Internet on a mobile phone. In South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Rwanda Internet is accessed through a mobile phone by 70% of Internet users.

Suggested citation

Stork, C., Calandro, E., & Gillwald, A. (2012). Internet going mobile: Internet access and usage in 11 African countries (Policy Brief No. 2). Research ICT Africa.