The Most Popular Uses for Mobile Phones in Africa

According to a survey of seven African countries, more than 50% of Africans use their phones to take photos. 

The survey found that one in five Africans use their cell phones to access social media but four out of five use them to send text messages. Another popular use of cell phones identified within the African market is mobile money. 42% of Ugandans and 39% of Tanzanians said they use payment services such as M-Pesa and MTN Mobile Money in East Africa.

In the seven Sub-Saharan countries, an average of 80% of cell phone users said they use it for text messaging. These figures stood at 95% for South Africans and 92% of Tanzanians.

Research has indicated that at least 53% of South African mobile phone users have WhatsApp installed on their phones. The app has become the most convenient and cheapest way to communicate for many Africans.

The second most popular activity was for taking photos and videos, with an average of 53% saying they had done so in the past year. This activity was most popular in South Africa and Nigeria. The selfie trend has had a big influence on this sector.

Surprisingly, a mere 19% of respondents reported accessing social networks on their cell phones. In South Africa, while Facebook dominates social networking, Twitter, Skype and Instagram have fast gained traction within the market. The 19-24 age group in South Africa is opting to spend their cash on data, while some 45% of South Africans have reported that they access Facebook on their mobile phones. A number of factors may influence the rate at which these trends grow in popularity across the continent, such as affordability of smartphones as well as data costs.

Here’s some further insight into exactly how Africans use their cell phones: 

  • Get political news: 21%
  • Look for or apply for a job: 14%
  • Get health information: 17%
  • Get consumer information: 14%


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