While western countries make up a significant part of mobile phone users, Africa is quickly rising up in the ranks, thanks to the poor.
While parts of Africa are known for poverty and war, the entire continent is rising in mobile phone use. Africa is now the second largest market in the world with over 600 million subscribers.
The rise is attributed to increases in the middle class population and the banking industry. Despite the continent’s challenges, commercial stability due to its natural resources is increasing. Access to mobile phones is greater than access to banks. Even an African who earns moderate money may have to travel hours just to reach a bank. Merging the services creates a more trustworthy relationship between commerce and finance.
Pieter de Villiers , CEO of mobile message provider Clickatell in South Africa, believes that internet usage is also rising.
Internet user numbers are set to rise, with more than 120 million users projected for sub-Saharan Africa by 2015, along with more than 100 million active mobile packet data customers, creating a ‘demand stimulus’ for bandwidth. But increased bandwidth supply will make little difference to prices in countries with concentrated international gateway markets.
Changing government regulations and the significance of education have also propelled cell phone use in Africa. With relaxed regulations, there are more competitive companies entering the market, which lowers the cost. MTN, Glo Mobile, Vodcaom and Virgin Mobile are among the companies present in Africa. Advocates for the poor are using technology like cell phones to educate them. The poor are also fueling a large share of the market. 96 percent of the mobile phone services are pre-paid, with Africans using scratch-off card purchases to add minutes. This type of service benefits lower income users.