The report highlights that some 680 million people living south of the Sahara do not use mobile Internet even though they live in areas covered by a high-speed mobile network, due in particular to the high cost connectivity, lack of literacy and digital skills.
After recording a continuous decline between 2017 and 2021, the median price of a gigabyte (GB) of mobile data in sub-Saharan Africa increased to 3.5% of monthly income per capita in 2022 from 3.3% in 2021, according to a report published on October 11 by the Global Association of Mobile Operators and Manufacturers (GSMA).
Titled “The state of mobile Internet connectivity 2023” , the report specifies that the price of mobile data in the region remains the highest globally. It is well above the ” affordability threshold “, which has been set at 2% of monthly per capita income set by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the United Nations agency specializing in communication technologies. information and communication.
The report also reveals that sub-Saharan Africa had 290 million mobile Internet users at the end of 2022, or 25% of the region’s population, compared to only 17% in 2017. This regional average, however, masks disparities between sub-regions. At the end of last year, mobile internet adoption ranged from 33% in Southern Africa to 17% in Central Africa.
If we only consider adults aged 18 and over, the average level of mobile Internet connectivity in sub-Saharan Africa increases from 25% to 42%.
On a regional scale, around 85% of the population is now covered by a high-speed mobile network. The coverage gap (corresponding to people living in areas not covered by a high-speed mobile network) concerns 180 million people, which represents 15% of the region’s population.
Despite this high coverage rate, some 680 million people living south of the Sahara do not use mobile Internet even though they live in areas covered by a high-speed mobile network. The usage deficit (corresponding to people who live in areas covered by a high-speed mobile network, but who do not use mobile Internet) has reduced over the past year, even if it remains significant . It still concerns 59% of the region’s population.
Coverage by 4G networks increases to 65%
Unconnected people tend to be poorer, less educated and older. People in rural areas are increasingly using mobile Internet, but there continues to be a significant gap between rural and urban areas.
The usage deficit is also explained by the fact that a significant proportion of populations in sub-Saharan Africa are not yet aware of mobile Internet and its advantages. In Ethiopia, only 46% of rural residents say they were aware of mobile Internet. Considering that around 77% of the population of this Horn of East African country is rural, this represents a significant share of the total population.
In general, women and people in rural areas are still less likely to be aware of mobile Internet.
Other major barriers to mobile Internet adoption are lack of digital literacy and skills, and the high cost of Internet-enabled phones.
South of the Sahara, around 17% of the population uses mobile Internet on a smartphone and 8% on a basic phone (feature phone). Thus, 32% of mobile Internet users do not connect via a smartphone. In addition, 69% of smartphones used to access mobile internet are only compatible with third generation (3G) networks while 65% of the population was covered by 4G networks in 2022 compared to only 19% in 2017 .
The report also reveals that 4.6 billion people worldwide were using mobile Internet at the end of last year, or 57% of the planet’s population.
Overall coverage remains virtually unchanged, with 95% of the world’s population now covered by a mobile broadband network. But still 3 billion people do not use mobile Internet even though they live in areas covered by a high-speed mobile network.