Low-cost smartphones are key to increasing internet penetration in Africa, according to Dave Duarte, South African entrepreneur and social media expert.
Duarte was addressing tech startups at 88mph’s Cape Town accelerator on Thursday.
“There are about 170 million internet users in Africa right now, out of a continent of a billion,” he said.
“Growth is going to come from mobile phones and particularly low-end smartphones that are starting to flood the market.”
As a result, Duarte predicted by 2050 there will be over one billion internet users on the continent, most of which will be connecting by mobile internet.
“This is a long time away but we will get there through easy user experience and low-cost devices,” he said.
Last year global telecommunications company Ericsson said the release of a US$50 smartphone would be a kickstarter in driving Africa’s internet penetration.
“The smartphone will become key to accessing the internet, which we believe will change the regional status quo and enable a level of connectivity not seen before,” said Shiletsi Makhofane, head of marketing, strategy, government and industry relations at Ericsson Sub-Saharan Africa.
The number of smartphones being shipped is on the rise, with over one billion being sold globally in 2013 alone.
According to a study by the International Data Corporation (IDC), over 55 per cent of all phones shipped last year were smartphones. The company has also found price to be a driving factor in smartphone sales.
“Cheap devices are not the attractive segment that normally grabs headlines, but IDC data shows this is the portion of the market that is driving volume,” said Ramon Llamas, research manager at IDC’s Mobile Phone team.