In 2013, Communications Minister Yunus Carrim boldly vowed to do what others before him had not been able to accomplish in their terms: to increase the penetration of the internet in the continent, and to lower the costs of connectivity so that more South Africans could have access to it. The Digital Divide is a problem that’s all too real in South Africa, and the exorbitant fees that come with internet and mobile connectivity have also put a damper on the progress of South Africans.
This year, however, has seen a rather hopeful change: research has shown that the continent has seen the fastest growth in mobile subscriptions in the world, and that it’s even on its way to hitting one billion mobile subscriptions by the year 2015.
What could this immense growth in mobile connectivity mean for South Africa? Gaming Realms, the company behind mobile gaming website freebingohunter.com, has stated that “growth in mobile internet is one of the most powerful trends in the internet landscape”, with global smartphone and tablet user bases having exceeded PC installed bases in 2013. If this is any indication, then South Africa’s choice to focus on mobile connectivity is nothing short of a genius move.
Mobile technology is already being used to promote better health in the continent, with a mobile subscription service called MAMA having been put in place to send moms tips and advice on how to properly take care of their children.
South Africans have also begun using their mobile phones for other purposes, such as paying their bills and transferring money. Studies by Pew Internet Research have shown that 29% — the third highest percentage of all the countries surveyed – of all mobile phone users in the continent use their phones to send and receive payments.
This movement towards embracing mobile technology has set up South Africa to continue gapping the Digital Divide that has plagued it for decades. As more South Africans begin turning to mobile development and embracing new technology, so too does South Africa begin taking steps to becoming a nation of the future.
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