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), commenting on the recent "Africa Connected: A telecommunications growth story" study from Ernst & Young.
The study found that market penetration of cellphones in Africa is sitting at 37%, and 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, coupled with services like BlackBerry's 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.