A new report reveals the scale of South Africa’s cell phone revolution.
Institute of Race Relations (IRR) Head of Risk, Kerwin Lebone, says that between 2000 and 2014, cell phone subscriptions had leapt by 702%, while those for fixed-line telephones had dropped by 38%.
At the same time, the proportion of people who accessed the internet increased from 5.4% to 49%.
He added: “In 2000, the ratio of cell phones to fixed-line telephone subscriptions was 1.7 to 1. By 2014, that had shot up to 22 cell phone subscriptions per fixed line.
“Of 26.2 million people aged 16 or older with access to the internet, almost half report doing so via their cell phones, with Samsung and Microsoft dominating the handset market”.
The IRR report also shows that the dominance of the cell phone extends to voice traffic.
Mr Lebone said: “There were 12.5 billion minutes of fixed-line voice traffic in 2014/15, compared to 82.9 billion minutes of cell voice traffic.
Moreover, some 41% of outgoing fixed-line voice calls went to cell phones while just under 3% of outgoing cell voice traffic went to fixed-line telephones.”
Just under a quarter of South Africans spent R50 or less per month on cell phone expenses and less than 1% spent more than R1 150 per month.
Lebone also predicted a swing to online retail transactions if data costs declined sufficiently. He also believes the internet will become an increasingly important political tool in South Africa.