Mobile phones hold the key to Internet access in Africa

Africa has one of the highest compound growth rates for mobile in the world

Rapid penetration of cellular phones into South Africa and the rest of the Africa will set the stage for mass adoption of the Internet across the country and continent.

This is according to Deon Liebenberg, Regional Director for Sub Sahara Africa at Research In Motion (RIM), the company behind the BlackBerry solution.

Commenting on the recent “Africa Connected: A telecommunications growth story” study from Ernst & Young that found that market penetration of cellphones in Africa is sitting at 37%, Liebenberg noted that the continent has largely bypassed fixed-line telecommunications solutions in favour of mobile technology.  South Africa has cellular penetration of about 98%.

Since 2002 Africa has seen its number of cellphone subscribers climb by a compound annual growth rate of 49.3% compared to 27.5% in Brazil and Asia, according to Ernst & Young. By 2012, market penetration in Africa can be expected to climb to more than 60%.

Says Liebenberg: “It’s clear from these statistics that most Africans have bypassed fixed-line telephony in favour of mobile phones, which coupled with cellular infrastructure, will do as much to bring data services to Africa as they did to bring telephony within the reach of the continent’s people.”

Concludes Liebenberg: “Smartphones such as the BlackBerry device offering Internet access and email features are becoming accessible and affordable to a broader range of subscribers. Coupled with the affordable BlackBerry Internet Service, these devices are giving a whole new segment of Internet users access to communications, multimedia, navigation and personal productivity applications that allow them to stay in touch with everything that matters at work and at home.”

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Mobile phones hold the key to Internet access in Africa