According to the Digital 2020 Global Overview, published by We Are Social and Hootsuite, the number of internet users in Zambia increased by 595, 000 (16%) between January 2019 and January 2020, while the number of mobile connections increased by 861, 000 in the same period.
Statistics sourced through the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) shows that the number of mobile internet users stands at 9, 140, 666, representing 52.59% penetration rate.
Mobile subscription is pegged at 17, 220, 607, out of a population of 17.9 million, representing a 99.08% penetration rate.
Commenting on the report, Zambia’s minister of Communications and Transport Mutotwe Kafwaya said the number of internet users is very low compared to phone subscriptions, and the cost to access the internet was still high and beyond the reach of many people.
“What the government is done is to come up with a new policy framework that provides a conducive environment for more players to invest in Zambia, so that there is competition to drive down the cost of both voice and data services so that many people can have access to the internet as well,” said Kafwaya.
Andrew Makanya, a telecom analyst at Computer Association of Zambia said access to data services remains a challenge in Zambia because many locals are using basic handsets or feature phones instead of data-enabled phones.
“As the report clearly shows, the number of internet users is low compared to mobile subscription. In my view, the major contributing factor is the low adoption of smartphones because many people cannot afford to buy them,” said Makanya.
As of January 2020 only 400 million Africans are connected to the internet, according to the Digital 2020 Global Overview.
The report claims 870 million people still do not have access to the internet and highlights the continent’s dominant age demographic (over half the population is below the age of 20).
While the research does not outline the reason or reasons why this factor contributes to Africa’s low internet, another report Youth, Deprivation and the Internet in Africa, references high unemployment levels and affordability as critical factors impacting access to the internet.