The Mobile Africa 2015 study, conducted by GeoPoll and World Wide Worx, shows that Internet browsing via phones now stands at 40 percent in South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, and Uganda.
51% of respondents in Ghana and 47% in Nigeria said they use their phones to access the Internet. South Africa sits at 40%, with Kenya at 34% and Uganda at 29%.
South Africa leads in app downloads, an indication of higher smartphone adoption, with 34% of phone users making downloads from app stores. This compares to 31% in Ghana, 28% in Nigeria, 19% in Kenya, and 18% in Uganda.
“This finding also indicates that mobile broadband infrastructure is more robust in South Africa, despite anecdotal reports of the Internet being used more actively in Nigeria and Kenya,” said Arthur Goldstuck, MD of World Wide Worx.
Most popular phone brands
The survey found that Nokia remains the biggest phone brand in the major African markets. However, its market share is plummeting fast.
While 46% of respondents owned a Nokia as their previous phone, only 34% own one now. Only half of those (18%) intend buying a Nokia next.
The big winner is Samsung, which is currently owned by 17% of respondents, up marginally from 14% previously.
When asked what phone will be bought next, the Samsung proportion shot up to 26%.
A surprise of the survey was the finding that BlackBerry, which is steady at 6% penetration for current and previous phones, is expected to rise to 16%.
The hand-me-down effect suggests BlackBerry will retain its position as the third most popular phone brand in major African markets for now.
Brands that will challenge both BlackBerry and Nokia in the near future include Apple (2% currently, expected to rise to 11%), Huawei (3%, expected to go to 9%), Sony (2% to 5%) and LG (3% to 5%).
Samsung’s strongest markets are Ghana (29%) and South Africa (21%), but is expected to rise in most other countries.
While it will remain at a similar level in South Africa and Ghana, it will rise from 18% to 39% in Kenya, and to 28% in Uganda, where it currently stands at only 10%. Nigeria market share will double, from 8% to 16%.
Apple is the surprise challenger for third place, with 16% of respondents in Ghana, 15% of Nigerians, and 14% of South Africans indicating they would buy one next.
Uganda at 8% and Kenya at 5% also show strong intentions to buy the high-cost iPhone next.