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Opinion and Insight

Mobile Internet Usage Rises Steeply Across Africa, But Users Are Turning To TV For Trusted News

Loudmouth PR, 3 weeks, 6 days ago

Hélène Rezé on Africa's changing media consumption habits

Mobile Internet Usage Rises Steeply Across Africa, But Users Are Turning To TV For Trusted News

By 2050, a quarter of the worldwide population will be living in Africa. With the rise of the middle class delivering more buying power within the region than ever before, it’s no surprise  that global marketers are trying to understand how best to reach this attractive burgeoning audience.   You could be forgiven for thinking that brands should bypass traditional media channels and go straight to the new kids on the block.  After all, the rate of mobile penetration is growing exponentially. 

Today, an average 87% of the urban population owns a mobile phone, ranging from a low 83% in DRC to a staggeringly high 94% in Mali and Ivory Coast, with more than half that group now being able to access the internet via mobile. 68% of Internet users connect via their phone. This high level of usage compared to PC (58%) confirms the African technological leap. In some countries like Gabon or Mali, more than half of Internet users connect exclusively via mobile. However, more than 87% of mobile owners use pre-paid cards, rather than monthly subscriptions. This, combined with low bandwidth, high data costs and feature phones with limited functionalities mean there are still a number of barriers to accessing the Internet via mobile. 

As the continent becomes more and more digitalised, with at least half the population expected to be connected to the Internet by 2025, recent research by TNS, part of Kantar Group, across French-speaking Africa showed that although mobile ownership and internet access is increasing, most of the respondents still rely heavily on TV and radio for information. Over 90% of households own at least one radio receiver and 99% have at least one TV set. Although most people are listening to the radio at home, particularly in the morning, access to radio via FM on mobile is on the rise. 

TV remains highly accessible. With 70% of the population living in capital cities able to view more than 20 TV channels, and a third accessing more than 60 (an increase of 22 percentage points in 5 years), the demand for an active audiovisual landscape in French-speaking Africa is growing. Many new local channels are emerging and there has been an increase in international channels as the continent’s potential becomes clear. 

Not only are 97% of the general population consuming more than 3.5 hours of TV a day, but interestingly, business leaders – generally middle aged, higher educated males – watch two hours more TV than the average person. Almost two thirds of them speak enough English to watch programmes in this language. They have a strong focus on news, particularly international news, compared to the general population whose main interest is music. 

Ninety three percent of this influential and affluent audience watch international TV every day; it is the media they most trust to inform them when any event happens. So why are some advertisers still reticent about using international media campaigns? They can be more cost effective than multi-national campaigns that target multiple countries via a number of channels because there are fewer buying points and less creative is required. 

Some of the hesitancy may stem from the fact that until now, there has been no common currency or point of reference for who the audience is and what media they are consuming, which is so vital to the media/advertising ecosystem. Conflicting data from disparate sources has caused confusion in the past, so having access to a comprehensive report from a reputable source that spans the whole of French-speaking Africa can really unlock the potential of this new audience.

Before undertaking its Africascope research, one of the key considerations for TNS was the methodology. Phone surveys were not an option because fixed line equipment is not optimal in many parts of the African continent and mobile phones are often used by multiple users. Therefore all the interviews were carried out face to face with data collected on tablets.  TNS also used their in-market experience, tapping into a local network of contacts, to ensure that the questions were asked not just in French, but in one of any number of local languages when necessary. 

With this combination of strong international experience paired with its local knowledge, it looks like TNS has finally produced a definitive currency with Africascope. Let’s hope this clears up the confusion once and for all and encourages advertisers to embrace the African continent and watch it flourish. 

All data is taken from the Africascope  survey by TNS, part of the Kantar Group.

Hélène Rezé is board member of the inTV Group and Deputy Director of Research and Insights at France Médias Monde

Genre: Strategy/Insight