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South Africa is one of the biggest adopters of mobile technology in sub-Saharan Africa, with higher rates of smartphone adoption than in most other countries in the region. A study by Pew Research in 2018 found that 51% of adults in South Africa own smartphones, and an additional 40% own a basic mobile phone. In terms of total numbers, it has been found that there are 46.9 million smartphone subscriptions in South Africa, which accounts for users who have multiple phones. As smartphone penetration continues to grow in South Africa, so does the development and use of smartphone apps for messaging, transportation, streaming, and more.

Despite high rates of smartphone adoption, South Africa is plagued by high data costs which have resulted in protests and fierce competition between the country’s leading mobile network operators including MTN and Vodacom. It has been found that data costs in South Africa are more expensive than those found in other sub-Saharan African nations including Kenya, Nigeria, and Ghana. In December 2019 a report by the Competition Commission highlighted the price disparities between countries, and stated that poorer customers are forced to buy smaller data packages due to cost, limiting their capabilities. Given that a majority of mobile users in South Africa are using mobile phones as their primary way to access the internet, the high costs of data remain a challenge for many.

In order to better understand how South Africans are using their phones, what features and applications they use most often, and how much they are paying for mobile services each month, GeoPoll conducted a study with 400 South Africans via mobile web link.

This study was conducted in February 2020 among 400 respondents in South Africa, with a 50-50 male-female split, and 33-33-34 split between ages 18-24, 25-34, and 35+. Respondents were roughly nationally representative across the 9 provinces in South Africa.

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Surveys were sent via mobile web, meaning respondents received an SMS message with a link that opened in a browser within their phone. Due to this methodology, all respondents had access to the internet when they took the survey, and 398 out of 400 respondents reported that they own a smartphone, as opposed to a more basic phone with internet access.

To view the full results of this study, visit this page: Smartphone Usage and Data Costs in South Africa. To conduct your own research project with GeoPoll in South Africa or another country, please contact us today.