Stockholm, Sweden – Consumers in sub-Saharan Africa are overwhelmingly mobile phone users – and they are using their devices for more data services than ever before.
This is the word from Shiletsi Makhofane, head of marketing and strategy at Ericsson Sub-Saharan Africa, sharing preliminary findings of an Ericsson ConsumerLabs study with an African media group in Stockholm today.

The consumer study, to be released soon, shows that a majority of sub-Saharan respondents own or use a mobile phone, which should reach almost 100% penetration within the next five years.

Mobile phones are the most widespread consumer device for regional users, followed by DVD players, smartphones, laptops or notebooks, digital cameras, digital music players and small percentage using personal computers.

However, almost half don’t use data on their phones; those that do generally pay for data as they need it with a small minority having unlimited data on the subscriptions, a capped data allowance or using data only when WiFi is available.

In South Africa, almost all users send and receive SMS or text message, although there is a still a healthy majority of people who use social networking and instant messaging.
SMS is the most-used service in most counties, followed by Internet browsing and social media.

Internet access is increasingly happening on mobile phones, with this being the primary access tool of the vast majority of sub-Saharan African users, with a small minority using tablets, desktop PCs or smart TVs.

The services the people consumer on their mobile phones, in order of popularity are SMS, listening to music, taking photos or videos, social networking, browsing the Internet, playing games, instant messaging, using Bluetooth, using calendar, sending and receiving e-mails.

Almost half of respondents in the region use social networking users on their mobile phone, but this is significantly higher in South Africa and Nigeria, but much lower in markets like Cameroon and Senegal.
In South Africa, the most popular social networking service appears to be WhatsApp, followed by FaceBook Messenger and BBM (BlackBerry Messenger). These services vary widely from country to country.

In terms of age, the most dominant group is between 22 and 30 years, followed by 16- to 21 year-olds and 31- to 40 year-olds.

App usage is also growing. The most popular is music, games, video, social networking, general search, graphics, communication (email), sport, news, education, weather, maps/navigation, financial, local search, health and business.

Mobile banking and mobile wallet services are set to grow across the region, with a number of people aiming to increase their usage of these services or interested in doing so.

The financial services currently popular in sub-Saharan Africa are paying bills, transferring money to the users’ phone accounts, reading account details, transferring money to another person, buying air time, for bank and credit card notifications.

In South Africa. The top three financial services are bank or credit card notifications, buying air time of phone credit and receiving wages.

The sub-Saharan Africa consumer report is expected to be finalised by the first week of October.