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[liberationtech] [TIER] smartphone usage in africa

Arjuna Sathiaseelan arjuna.sathiaseelan at cl.cam.ac.uk
Tue Aug 30 01:03:35 PDT 2016


Dear All -
Thanks for all the links and useful info.

I have collated all the info I received via the mailing list/offline into
an excel sheet - if its useful: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/
1MHvEGEzAg4KWyHRDPIXHadU5kLvrt1k5c_ctkQWTp8k/edit?usp=sharing

Regards

On 20 August 2016 at 00:34, Danny O'Brien <danny at eff.org> wrote:

> On Fri, Aug 19, 2016 at 11:22:48AM -0700, Jenna Burrell wrote:
> > When considering usage, don't forget to think about phone sharing.
> There's
> > a piece I wrote a while back (pre smartphone) that discusses practices
> > around phone sharing in rural Uganda and the related gender dynamics:
> > -- http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1083-6101.
> 2010.01518.x/full
> >
> > Also, an old piece (also pre smartphone), but one that breaks down the
> > difficulties of 'counting' phone use in Africa pretty well:
> > https://www.researchgate.net/publication/41029741_Mobile_
> phones_in_Africa_How_much_do_we_really_know
> >
> > I would second the recommendation of Susan Wyche's article -
> > http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=2317985
> >
> > Carlos, glad to see your survey too!
> >
> > Also, what I observed a few years back was that the devices being sold as
> > 'smartphones' were way way more diverse in Ghana, Uganda. Lots of phone
> > brands I'd never heard of, brand knock-offs, etc. Designing apps for the
> > 'smartphone' market would be difficult and how well an app would port to
> > the great variety of 'smartphones' you may find throughout Africa is
> > uncertain.
>
> Somewhat along the same lines (but perhaps unrelated to the original
> question), I like Caribou Digital's analysis of app creators in the
> African mobile sector, if only because other commercial research tends
> to throw moble users in Africa (as elsewhere) straight into the consumer
> bucket, rather than considering phones users as producers and peers,
> e.g:
>
> http://cariboudigital.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/
> Caribou-Digital-Winners-and-Losers-in-the-Global-App-Economy-2016.pdf
>
> (Disclosure: Chris Locke at Caribou is an old friend, though I don't
> always agree with him!)
>
> d.
>
> >
> > Jenna Burrell
> > Associate Professor
> > School of Information
> > UC-Berkeley
> >
> >
> > On Fri, Aug 19, 2016 at 12:12 AM, Carlos Rey-Moreno <
> > carlos.reymoreno at gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > > Hi Arjuna, following on Chris's comments, we've recently published in
> ITD
> > > an in-depth survey about ICT ownership, usage and expenditure of a
> rural
> > > community in South Africa. You can download it from here:
> > > http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/8zryygrbhhGHtWU8CIqE/full
> > >
> > > It confirms most of his assumptions, from the importance of electricity
> > > (as reflected by the amount they expend on keeping their phones
> charged,
> > > 12% of the total expenditure), the amount of time that people spend
> without
> > > airtime (around 40%), and the little usage and expenditure of Internet
> > > services (22% of the people, 25MB per month).
> > >
> > > We are currently analyzing another in-depth study in another village
> where
> > > charging station where not installed (the study above is in the village
> > > where Zenzeleni Networks <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxTPSWMX26M>
> is
> > > operating), and the percentage of the total expenditure dedicated to
> > > electricity is even higher.
> > >
> > > I hope it helps,
> > >
> > > regards,
> > >
> > > carlos
> > >
> > > On 17 August 2016 at 06:29, Katy Pearce <katycarvt at gmail.com> wrote:
> > >
> > >> I wrote this piece a few years back, may be of interest...
> > >> http://www.rferl.mobi/a/why-technology-penetration-rates/
> 24805097.html
> > >>
> > >> On Tue, Aug 16, 2016, 9:27 PM Katy Pearce <katycarvt at gmail.com>
> wrote:
> > >>
> > >>> Also for what it's worth, surveying in much of Africa is incredibly
> > >>> challenging for a variety of reasons. I'd be cautious in trusting it.
> > >>>
> > >>> On Tue, Aug 16, 2016, 9:23 PM Chris Csikszentmihalyi <
> robotic at gmail.com>
> > >>> wrote:
> > >>>
> > >>>> Hi Arjuna,
> > >>>>
> > >>>> Just a quick note that usage can be quite different across Africa:
> it's
> > >>>> a big country! [sic]. So by rural; urban; income; gender, phone
> ownership
> > >>>> is only one aspect of an individual's use strategy. Don't assume
> that an
> > >>>> owned smart phone is on, charged, or connected to data, indeed it is
> > >>>> probably being used very differently than a North American or
> European
> > >>>> might expect.
> > >>>>
> > >>>> A lot of Africa ICT infographics use ITU figures, which tend to be
> very
> > >>>> boosterish, citing for instance sim subscriptions rather than the
> much
> > >>>> smaller number of active users. This works well for the telcos, who
> want to
> > >>>> look big, and for the ministers of communication, who want to look
> > >>>> "developed." But even if you project active users, these figures
> can still
> > >>>> be pretty misleading. Many urban professionals will have multiple
> sim
> > >>>> phones, or simply multiple phones, in order to allow cheaper
> in-network
> > >>>> calls with friends/colleagues with different providers. How many
> North
> > >>>> Americans or Europeans use multiple sims every day? I've seen many
> > >>>> journalists and scholars conflate subscriptions with people.
> > >>>>
> > >>>> One way we tried to reconcile the figures with what we saw in the
> field
> > >>>> was to divide the ITU's reported total of a country's voice minutes
> by
> > >>>> population. This was back of envelope -- don't cite me and do
> correct me if
> > >>>> I'm wrong -- but from what we saw in 2012, Kenyans spent an average
> of 3.5
> > >>>> minutes per week in a voice call, Ghanaians 3, Nigerians 1. These
> are most
> > >>>> people's primary phones, and this is average not the median, so
> given
> > >>>> income distributions it would be safe to imagine that something
> like 80% of
> > >>>> the population is far lower. In most of the countries I've been to
> telco
> > >>>> data packages are pretty expensive, and edge/3g/4g networks are
> worse than
> > >>>> GSM. So in a rural area there may be no data available, but you'll
> still
> > >>>> see some smart phones. Add to that the problem of charging outside
> urban
> > >>>> areas, and many users simply carry a powered off phone without
> credit. In
> > >>>> rural Uganda, where I'm working, when a farmer has to make a call,
> s/he
> > >>>> travels kilometers to a shop to charge and purchase credits. Why
> tie up
> > >>>> your money in credits that might devalue? But this strategy means
> that one
> > >>>> is generally not available for received calls/texts.
> > >>>>
> > >>>> Why have a smart phone if you aren't really connected to data? For
> > >>>> instance, there are big bluetooth/sd card movie/music trading
> networks. An
> > >>>> Xiao Mina found folks with dubbed martial arts movies that had been
> passed
> > >>>> by hand for long distances [http://thenewinquiry.com/essa
> > >>>> ys/mapping-the-sneakernet/]. Susan Wyche also wrote about some of
> the
> > >>>> patterns of use in (iirc) Kenya in ""Dead China-make" phones off
> the grid:
> > >>>> Investigating and designing for mobile phone use in rural Africa."
> > >>>>
> > >>>> All of which is to say that the Pew figures are probably correct,
> but
> > >>>> parsing their meaning requires quite a bit of local knowledge. If
> anyone
> > >>>> can get deeper figures on data usage, background data usage, time
> powered
> > >>>> on, etc, I'd be excited to see them.
> > >>>>
> > >>>> C.
> > >>>>
> > >>>> --
> > >>>> Chris Csikszentmihályi
> > >>>> ERA Chair & Scientific Director
> > >>>> Professor
> > >>>> [image: m-itiLogo] <http://www.m-iti.org/>
> > >>>> ------------------------------
> > >>>> www.m-iti.org | csik at m-iti.org | edgyproduct.org
> > >>>> <http://edgyproduct.org>
> > >>>>
> > >>>> * "Art means… to resist the course of a world that unceasingly
> holds a
> > >>>> gun to mankind's chest."
> > >>>>
> > >>>> --Theodore Adorno*
> > >>>> --
> > >>>> Liberationtech is public & archives are searchable on Google.
> > >>>> Violations of list guidelines will get you moderated:
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> moderator at
> > >>>> companys at stanford.edu.
> > >>>
> > >>>
> > >> _______________________________________________
> > >> TIER mailing list
> > >> Website: http://tier.cs.berkeley.edu
> > >> TIER at tier.cs.berkeley.edu
> > >> https://www.millennium.berkeley.edu/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/tier
> > >>
> > >>
> > >
> > >
> > > --
> > > Carlos Rey-Moreno, PhD
> > > PostDoctoral Fellow University of the Western Cape
> > > Zenzeleni Networks: zenzeleni.net
> > > https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxTPSWMX26M
> > > Cel: +27 (0) 76 986 3633
> > > Skype: carlos.reymoreno Twitter: Creym
> > >
> > > _______________________________________________
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> > > Website: http://tier.cs.berkeley.edu
> > > TIER at tier.cs.berkeley.edu
> > > https://www.millennium.berkeley.edu/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/tier
> > >
> > >
>
> > --
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>


-- 
Arjuna Sathiaseelan
Personal: http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~as2330/
N4D Lab: http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~as2330/n4d
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