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Africa’s Cell Phone Usage

Six in ten people around the world now have cell phone subscriptions, Africa is no different.

The International Telecommunication Union reports that there were an estimated 4.1 billion subscriptions globally by the end of 2008, compared with about 1 billion in 2002.


Developing countries now account for about two-thirds of cell phones in use. In 2002, less than half of mobile subscriptions globally were in the developing world.

Internet use more than doubled. An estimated 23 percent of people on the planet used the Internet last year, up from 11 percent in 2002. Poor countries still lag far behind on Internet access, with only 1 in 20 people in Africa going online in 2007 , the most recent year for which firm figures were available.

Fixed broadband increased to almost 20 percent in rich countries, while globally just over 1 in 20 had access to fast Internet connections at home.

The Geneva-based agency recorded the sharpest rise in mobile broadband subscriptions. The technology, which allows users to access the Web at high speed with mobile devices, was available to 3 percent of people worldwide, increasing to 14 percent in developed countries.

The so-called ‘digital divide’ between rich and poor countries remained unchanged between 2002 and 2007.

“Despite significant improvements in the developing world, the gap between the ICT haves and have-notes remains,” the report found.

Teltscher said the global economic recession would likely affect the development of telecommunications technology around the world.

“In terms of consumer demand and uptake, there will probably be a little bit of slowdown in the growth, but we are not expecting any decline,” she said. “People who have a mobile phone are unlikely to give up on it.”

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