Zimbabwe’s mobile penetration rate increased to 80 per cent of households in 2013 from 26 per cent in 2008, a higher growth rate than the rest of the continent, according to American research firm Gallup.
According to the Gallup study, 65 per cent of households in 23 countries in sub-Saharan Africans have mobile phones.
While mobile penetration is far higher in numerous other countries – the highest being Mauritania with 96 per cent of households owning a mobile phone – Zimbabwe has seen the steepest growth rate on the continent, increasing at nine per cent per year since 2008.
Both Zimbabwe’s mobile phone penetration and annual growth rate is higher than that of South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Tanzania.
According to Gallup, Sub-Saharan Africa is the second largest mobile market after Asia. However, its growth rate is the highest in the world, although mobile penetration is not equal among urban and rural communities.
“Mobile phones remain most common in urban households. In 2013, 80 per cent of urban households had at least one mobile phone, compared with 63 per cent of rural households that have at least one mobile phone. This is a change from six years ago when 63 per cent of urban households had at least one mobile and 43 per cent of rural households did,” Gallup said.
However, the economic divide is not as apparent in the mobile phone market, with 55 per cent the poorest 20 per cent of households on the continent owning at least one mobile phone.
“Growth has been biggest among sub-Saharan African in the second lowest income group [second 20 per cent], increasing 28 percentage points since 2008,” Gallup said.