Mobile Telephony Access and Usage in Africa

Chabossou, Augustin
Stork, Christoph
Stork, Matthias
Zahonogo, Pam
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LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg
This paper uses data from nationally representative household surveys conducted in 17 African countries to analyse mobile adoption and usage. The paper shows that countries differ in their levels of ICT adoption and usage and also in factors that influence adoption and usage. Income and education vastly enhance mobile adoption but gender, age and membership of social networks have little impact. Income is the main explanatory variable for usage. In terms of mobile expenditure the study also finds linkages to fixed-line, work and public phone usages. These linkages need, however, to be explored in more detail in future. Mobile expenditure is inelastic with respect to income, ie the proportion of mobile expenditure to individual income increases less than1% for each1% increase in income. This indicates that people with higher income spend a smaller proportion of their income on mobile expenditure compared to those with less income. The study provides tools to identify policy intervention to improve ICT take-up and usage and defines universal service obligations based on income and monthly usage costs. It helps to put a number to what can be expected from lower access and usage costs in terms of market volume and number of new subscribers. Linking this to other economic data such as national household income and expenditure surveys and GDP calculation would allow forecast of the economic and social impact of policy interventions. Key policy interventions would be regulatory measures to decrease access and usage costs, rural electrification and policies to increase ICT skills of pupils and teachers.
ICT, Mobile access, Mobile usage, Income elasticity estimation, Gender.
Chabossou, A., Stork, C., Stork, M., & Zahonogo, P. (2008). The role of institutional design in the conduct of infrastructure industry reforms: An illustration through telecommunications in developing countries. The Southern African Journal of Information and Communication (SAJIC), 9, 17-41.