February 1, 2013
Telecoms boom leaves rural Africa behind
While mobile phone usage has exploded across Africa over the last decade, transforming daily life and commerce for millions, it's a revolution that has left behind perhaps two thirds of its people. Reuters reports.
...In South Sudan, the world's newest state, it's a similar story. Less than a year old, the country already has five mobile operators, and its capital, Juba, is teeming with giant billboards advertising mobile phones, but go just a few kilometers beyond a handful of fast-growing towns, and cell phones become useless.
Multiple SIM cards help users navigate patchy network coverage and take advantage of price promotions from rival operators.
That is typical of much of the continent.
With a population of just over a billion people, Africa has over 700 million SIM cards, but with most users owning at least two cards, penetration is only about 33 percent, according to a study released in November by industry research firm Wireless Intelligence.
"If we look at the fact that the rural population of Africa is about 60-70 percent of the population, and if we look at the degree of penetration into the rural market, it's very, very low," said Spiwe Chireka of advisory firm IDC.
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