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. That’s 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 notes that the continent has largely bypassed fixed-line telecommunications solutions in favour of mobile technology. South Africa has cellular penetration of about 98%.
From 2002 until now, Africa has seen its number of cellphone subscribers climb by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 49.3% compared to a CAGR of about 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.”
“Affordable smartphones, such as BlackBerry® devices, coupled with services such as the BlackBerry® Internet Service have the potential to bring Internet connectivity to many small businesses and consumers in Africa who could not afford it in the past,” says Liebenberg.
The full BlackBerry solution offers South African end-users unlimited on-device Web browsing and email access from their smartphones from as little as R59.00 a month. Vodacom even offers Prepaid BlackBerry® Internet Service at a mere R59.00 per 30 day cycle (month).
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.”