Africans are using their mobile phones to access the web more and more these days, and their favorite site to visit is (surprise, surprise): Facebook. Opera Mobile saw a triple-digit percentage growth in mobile Web usage in just one year in Africa, with page views in the top 10 countries increasing by 374%, unique users increasing by 177%, and the amount of data transferred increasing by 183%.
This is significant because it signals a change in the way Africans are accessing information and connecting with each other. Given many countries’ weak communication infrastructure, getting proper internet access has always been a challenge. But as Richard Wray says in his article for the Guardian:
Mobile usage is ballooning across the continent and the African mobile phone market – at more than 400 million subscribers – is now larger than in North America. Some countries, such as South Africa, have ‘mobile penetration levels’ – the number of handsets compared with size of population – close to those of Western Europe.
Proper access to the internet and social networking sites like Facebook present new possibilities for the way African country governments, international aid organizations and African citizens themselves provide and access services like health care, finances, and small-business development. I’m excited to see how Africans will embrace these opportunities and will be looking out for status updates from my friends in Nairobi, including the tea farmers in Gatundu.