The recently published GSMA Mobile Economy in Africa Report for 2016 shared some key indicators for mobile use for the continent including regional smartphone penetration rates.
According to GSMA, the Southern Africa Development Community’s (SADC) smartphone penetration at the end of 2015 stood at 24% against a mobile subscriber rate of 42%.
Much like the use of mobile devices, the smartphone rate is increasing and it’s expected to reach 57% by 2020.
SADC is the region with the highest smartphone penetration rate and this figure is largely driven by extensive smartphone use in the region’s largest economy, South Africa (it’s estimated to be over 45%).
GSMA highlighted the contributions to mobile broadband adoption that have been made by South Africa and three other countries – Egypt, Kenya, and Nigeria.
Zimbabwe’s smartphone penetration rate also increased
Despite the fair amount of information on national mobile usage Zimbabwe’s smartphone penetration rate hasn’t always been easily accessible.
The last recorded figure was an informed estimate arrived at through an assessment of related data.
As such, the latest GSMA figures for regional smartphone penetration plus the figures shared on other markets like the leader in the region – South Africa – can help determine just how much Zimbabwe’s mobile broadband use has grown.
Using previously recorded smartphone estimates (15%, based on the rate recorded by Econet Wireless, the country’s largest mobile operator for its network), a limited growth in broadband use in 2015, the increases for Africa noted by GSMA (there was a 7% increase for the entire continent), a spike in Android device use (feature phones use is in decline) paired with the extensive use of WhatsApp, and a regional average of 24% – our conservative estimate is that Zimbabwe’s smartphone penetration rate is between 20 and 23%.
This figure takes into account the trend that has in the past presented our national smartphone penetration rate at just under the regional average.