What Most Africans Use Cell Phones For May Surprise You. Or Not

April 22, 2015

Just one in five Africans use their mobile phones to access social media but four out of five use them to send text messages, and more than half use them to take photos, according to a survey of seven African countries, PCTechMag reports.

A new study by the Pew Research Centre was based on 7,052 face-to-face interviews in seven sub-Saharan African nations with adults 18 and older. Mobile phone users were also interviewed in the U.S.

Responses in Africa showed that despite companies scrambling to push out their content onto social media platforms in Africa, just 19 percent of Africans surveyed access social networking sites through their devices, according to PCTEchMag.

Mobile money was another surprise.

Mobile money has been identified as the next frontier, but just a median 30 percent of sub-Saharan Africans who responded to the survey said they are using their cell phones to make payments. Broken down by country, that worked out to be 15 percent of South Africans, Nigerians and Ghanaians who said they use mobile money.

The mobile money number was significantly higher in Kenya — 61 percent of Kenyans said they use their mobile phones to make payments. So did 42 percent of Ugandans and 39 percent of Tanzanians, citing payment services such as M-Pesa and MTN Mobile Money in East Africa.

While the median number for text messaging was 80 percent in the seven sub-Saharan countries, 95 percent of South Africans and 92 percent of Tanzanians said they use texts.

Taking photos and videos was the second most popular activity, with a median of 53 percent saying they had done so in the past year. This activity was most popular in South Africa and Nigeria.

Most common use of cell phones in the seven countries included the following:

Send text messages: 80 percent
Take pictures or video: 53 percent
Make or receive payments: 30 percent
Get political news 21: percent
Access social network 19: percent
Get health information 17: percent
Look for or apply for a job 14: percent
Get consumer information: 14

Here’s how many Africans have land lines, according to Pew Research:

Senegal: 6 percent
South Africa: 6 percent
Kenya: 3 percent
Tanzania: 2 percent
Ghana: 1 percent
Nigeria: 1 percent
Uganda: 1 percent
U.S.: 60 percent

Median in Africa: 2 percent

Significant gender gaps in mobile phone ownership appear in all African countries surveyed except South Africa, where equal numbers of men and women own cell phones, according to the Pew report. Men are also more likely to own a smartphone than women in four countries – Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal and Uganda.

Source: AFK Insider

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