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South Africa leads adult smartphone use on the continent

South Africa leads adult smartphone use on the continent

South Africa

In Africa, South Africa has the largest number of adults owning smartphones. This is according to a smartphone penetration report from the Pew Research Center which has indicated that nearly half of the world’s adult population use smartphones.

Of the 40 countries sampled for the research, South Africa places 24th on the list with a smartphone penetration of 37%, another 52% of South Africans used ‘ordinary’ phones whiles 10% said they did not use phones at all.

Even though the global median for smartphone penetration stands at 43%, in Africa less than one in five people use a smartphone.

The smartphone digital divide is clear, with a difference of 84 percentage points between the country with the most smartphone owners, South Korea, and the country with the least – Ethiopia at 4%.

Following South Africa is Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria, who ranked 27th, followed by Kenya (29th), Ghana (33rd), Senegal (34th), Burkina Faso (36th), Tanzania (37th), Uganda (39th) and Ethiopia (40th) the last according to the research.

The research was based on a survey of 40 countries in 2015, the results noted however that there was still a significant gap between developed and developing countries, even though the gap is closing rapidly.

Continental breakdown

At the continental level, Africa was last relative to ownership of smartphones, with 19% of adults reportedly owning smartphones. Over half (52%) of adults however owned a phone whiles 21% did not use phones.

The United States (classified as a continent as per the research), Europe and the Middle East led the continental with smartphone ownership percentages of 72%, 60% and 57% respectively.

Latin America and the Asia Pacific regions followed in that order with 43% and 37% penetration respectively.

Top ‘smart’ nations

Top of the chart relative to ‘adults who reported owning smartphones,’ was South Korea which recorded 88% of adults owning phones, Australia, Israel, the United States and Spain finished the first five category. Whiles UK, Canada, Chile, Malaysia and Germany completing the top 10 ‘smart countries.

Sales of smartphones are booming, with more than 1.4 billion sold in 2015 and the figure is expected to be higher still this year.

‘‘The smartphone digital divide is clear, with a difference of 84 percentage points between the country with the most smartphone owners, South Korea, and the country with the least – Ethiopia at 4%,’‘ the report said.

The report further observed that in emerging and developing countries, ‘‘the average figure for smartphone ownership figure has risen from 21% to 37% in just two years.’‘

What is a smartphone?

Smartphones are mobile phone with advanced mobile operating systems which combines features of a personal computer operating system with other features useful for mobile or hand held use. 

They have multi functional purposes combining features of a cell phone with those of other popular mobile devices, such as personal digital assistant (PDA), media player, GPS navigation unit and digital camera and radio.

Most smartphones can access the Internet and can run third-party apps. They have a touchscreen user interface, with LCD, OLED, AMOLED, LED or similar screen.

Smartphones became widespread in the 21st century and most of those produced from 2012 onwards have high-speed mobile broadband 4G LTE, motion sensors, and mobile payment.