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Africa: Five countries have near 100% mobile phone ownership (survey)

Monday, 16 January 2023 15:39
Africa: Five countries have near 100% mobile phone ownership (survey)

(Ecofin Agency) - In Africa, network coverage has greatly improved over the past decade. In some countries, it is nearly 100% and mobile phones are getting more affordable. But, some issues still hamper digital inclusion. 

In 2021, five African countries had over 94% mobile phone ownership (meaning that almost every resident has a mobile phone), a survey by Afrobarometer reveals. The said countries are namely Gabon (96%), Morocco (96%), Côte d’Ivoire (94%), Mauritius (94%), and eSwatini (94%).

The survey that was carried out in 34 African countries also reveals that 24 countries had between 75% and 93% mobile ownership, while five countries had below 75% ownership. The countries in the below-75% mobile phone ownership category are Niger (63%), Mozambique (62%), Ethiopia (59%), Malawi (57%), and Angola (57%). Meanwhile, the continental average was 84%.

This seemingly high average is due to the actions implemented by telecom operators over the years to market affordable phones. Most of the phones they marketed were feature phones, however, not smartphones.

According to Statista, "feature phones make up a significant share of the mobile phone market in Africa, in contrast to many other regions around the world where smartphones make up almost the entire market. Of the 40 to 50 million mobile phones shipped in Africa per quarter, more than half are feature phones. In the first quarter of 2022, smartphone shipments amounted to 19.7 million units, while almost 22 million feature phones were shipped."

This is one of the reasons (beyond the price of Internet packages considered expensive) why the number of mobile Internet users remains relatively low in Africa, although the rate of cell phone ownership is high. Compared to the average rate of cell phone ownership on the continent, which is 84% out of 34 countries surveyed, the internet access rate is 45%, according to Afrobarometer.

In 2021, in Gabon, while the mobile phone ownership rate was 96%, the internet access rate was 66%. In Côte d'Ivoire, the internet access rate was 52% against 77% for Mauritoius, 75% for Morocco and 55% for eSwatini. Only one citizen out of five had both a mobile phone and access to the internet in Malawi (20 %), Niger (20 %), and Ethiopia (16 %). Let's note that both the internet access rate and mobile phone ownership have likely evolved with the continuous investments made by telecom operators in 2022.

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(source : Afrobarometer)

Muriel Edjo



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ECOFIN AGENCY offers a selection of articles translated from AGENCE ECOFIN. Founded in 2011, Agence Ecofin is a leader in Francophone Pan-African economic news, particularly in West and Central Africa. The agency publishes daily news on nine African economic sectors: Public Management, Finance, ICT, Agribusiness, Energy, Mining, Transport & Logistics, Communication, and Training.

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