Access to Mobile Technology in Africa: The Impact of Feature Phones

CloudMosa, Inc.
CloudMosa
Published in
3 min readApr 7, 2023

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Smartphones, are a crucial part of the lives of billions, yet at the same time, for some, nonexistent. It is hard to believe that over a billion people worldwide do not have a smartphone, considering that over 83% of the global population has one. But this is still true for over a billion people worldwide. Not only are there individuals within the top 10 developed countries without a smartphone, but many developing nations also have a large percentage of users either on a feature phone or no phone at all.

Barriers to Entry

Cost is the primary factor in this barrier of entry. For some, an entry-level iPhone 14 is not just a few months of salary but over a year’s worth. Even if local taxes are taken out of the equation, the lack of affordability is still highly apparent. But even more budget-conscious smartphones from other brands, which may seem affordable in first-world countries, are still absolutely out of reach for hundreds of millions elsewhere. Another is the unaffordability of data; many researchers have found that the poorest regions have some of the most expensive data fees per minute. In Africa, for example, while network coverage has improved dramatically over the years, with 3.4 billion people living in areas covered by mobile broadband networks, only a fraction of these individuals are actually able to use this resource at all. For example, there are 348 million adults within the Sub-Saharan African region who do not own an internet-enabled handset.

Why Feature Phones?

That is where the entry-level feature phone comes in. It allows users to send and receive money via mobile money transfers, connect beyond their own town or region, and extend their services to new clients or partners. As a result, thousands of people have significantly increased their income and wealth because of the portal of the internet, through feature phones. Numbers speak for themselves; feature phone subscriptions reached 32.9 million in June 2022, giving them a 55.1% market share in Kenya.

Local governments and service providers are working to come up with solutions to help more people access mobile technology. Device manufacturers are also offering new, more affordable releases, with features specifically catered to different regions. While it is understandable that private sectors need to make a profit, it is in their interest to make devices that more people can afford.

While sales in the smartphone market have been declining, the feature phone market has not only maintained its strong position but also still has room for growth, especially for the hundreds of millions of adults and youth worldwide who have not yet owned a feature phone. Going from no phone or a basic phone to a feature phone is a significant upgrade that can change lives forever.

The Puffin Advantage:

CloudMosa, we have been pioneering cloud-based apps and services for over a decade, working with various partners worldwide. Through this process, we have gained an understanding of the requirements and desires of our customers, the majority of whom are mobile-based. Our Cloud Apps require minimal space but provide lightning-fast loading speeds, making them a perfect match for the average feature phone user.

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CloudMosa, Inc.
CloudMosa

A pioneer in providing remote browser solutions for users worldwide.