Mobility 2006: Peter Searll, Are mobile South Africans techno-literate?

Peter Searll, Dashboard ResearchSouthern Africa is populated with people often with total illiteracy-can we expect these population of techno – don’t know how to effectively usage mobile technologies at their disposal. What form of digital divide in mobile is crippling South Africa-is it complete lack of mobile knowledge or inability to effectively use such technologies? The answer lies within the context in which these technologies are taking place; we have emerging new mobile handsets that equal computers in operations. Mr Searll provided deeper analytic research findings on the use of m-commerce by South Africans, and different segments of users. His six segments include the Grassroots, Lizards, Playas, Magpies, Sophisticates and Elephants.The Grassroots are largely loyal and basic users, mostly in rural areas with very poor education. This segment use mobile 86 % for voice, 14 % for SMSs and no data use at all. This group has very little income and besides from being scared of technology has very limited “know-how”, a group that Mr Mashile ‘s philosophy of regulation belong. Lizards are mostly regarded as disloyal users, find cell phones difficult to use, and no Internet literacy at all. Playas are mostly youth who are by and large mobile dependent, with 50 % of them under the age of 25, almost 80 % of their cell phone usage is for voice, above average 3G penetration, with highly data usage and 71% MMS usage.

Magpies are young technology crazy people with 71 % usage of mobile being on voice, hence only 1% data usage, 1.3 % cell phone banking and are largely technology innovators. The Sophisticates are ‘opinion leaders’, largely previously advantaged population, and 75% of mobile usage being on Voice. Interestingly 21% cell phone banking used, high data use and have potential for “growth in mobile banking”. Lastly the Elephants , this are the political and economic heavyweights , highest 3G penetration, 21 % cell phone banking though 99% of them have bank accounts, still in this segment there is 84% of mobile being used for voice. In conclusion, South Africa is making a good progress though redistribution of wealth still largely with the business corporatism, we could see things changing.

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