Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Smartphones: Nigeria ranks 4th in Africa

Nigeria has been ranked fourth in smartphone connection on the continent by the latest report by Informa, industry-based analysts group.

The report which queries the mobile connectivity of African countries was tagged “Mobilizing public services in Africa” readiness index.

With the report made available to ITRealms Online by the Public Relations manager, Informa Telecoms & Media, Denise Duffy, Nigeria is behind South Africa, Egypt and Kenya on smartphone penetration in the highest order.

This trend, Informa noted will continue in the next five years, that is, 2016.

The report also noted that though the mobile device market is maturing and smartphone penetration will accelerate the limited functionality of entry level handsets is an inhibitor to the potential of mobile government services.

Informa further said that however, the smartphone market is set to grow in Africa too.

According to projections by Informa, over a third of mobile connections in South Africa will be via smartphones by the end of 2016, and this figure will be in excess of 15 per cent in Egypt, Kenya and Nigeria.

“This provides far greater flexibility to what can be achieved by mobile government,” part of the report read.

Meanwhile, the white paper on “Mobilizing public services in Africa” which was released officially at the recently concluded AfricaCom 2011 in Cape Town, South Africa, ranked South Africa ahead of 
Kenya and Egypt as the African country most ready nation to embrace mobile government services.
Despite South Africa’s appearance at the top of the index,

According to the report co-authored by Nick Jotischky and Sheridan Nye, noted that until now mobile government implementations have been far slower to take off there than in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania.

These East African countries have been quicker to realize the benefits to citizens and small businesses; agricultural advice, payment of utility bills, commodity pricing information) of delivering public services using cellular technologies.

They pointed out that e-government is being seen increasingly by African governments as a source of economic, social and political development that encourages greater citizen engagement and improves access to services.

Also, they underscored the fact that two-thirds of respondents to a C-level industry survey that Informa recently commissioned believed e-government services are still under-developed in Africa.

As said by Jotischky it is striking when looking at e-government strategies in Africa that there is no clear articulation of the role mobile devices can play in the spread of e-government services.

Given the importance of mobile in Africa’s economy and culture over the last decade, Jotischky said, this appeared strange.

“After all, not only does the continuing growth in wireless access ensure a wide audience reach, but messaging and data usage trends suggest many consumers in Africa are already using mobile for a variety of purposes,” Nick said.

The mobile device market, the author said, has continued to mature and smartphone penetration is accelerating.

Informa projects that by 2016 over a third of mobile connections in South Africa will be via smartphones.

The report equally noted that many of the mobile government services already implemented are in east and North Africa.

Most of these services, the authors foresee as being directed at citizens and businesses but as yet, governments have not used mobile technology as a way of overhauling internal processes and providing more flexibility to their workforces.

Commenting also, Nye was quoted as saying that technology providers Africa the opportunity to enable mobile government by encouraging the migration of public sector services to the cloud.

“Virtualisation of infrastructure and flexible, usage-based pricing would allow government agencies to pay for what they need and flex costs accordingly to match demand. Mobility services should form an integrated part of the public sector’s cloud migration,” he said.

ITRealms Online gathered that Informa’s mobile government readiness index is based on the following indicators mobile penetration; Third Generation (3G) penetration; mobile broadband penetration forecasts; proportion of population living in rural areas; the size of public sector as a per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), as well as the United Nations (UN’s) e-Government Readiness Index; fixed broadband penetration and literacy rates.

The index excluded countries with a population less than 5 million.

Remmy Nweke

ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

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