Comparing the Determinants of Internet and Cell Phone Use in Africa: Evidence from Gabon
Communications & Strategies, No. 86, 2nd Quarter 2012, pp. 65-83
19 Pages Posted: 1 Jun 2013
Date Written: June 15, 2012
Within developed countries, the penetration of cell phones and the Internet has risen in tandem and the point of market saturation has nearly been reached in both markets. In contrast, the African continent has been characterized by more uneven progress, with the penetration of cell phones (41% in 2010) considerably outpacing the penetration of the Internet (9.6%). The question is then raised as to whether cell phone and Internet adoption processes in Africa are different as compared to other regions. To address this question, we compare the determinants and hindrances of both Internet and cell phone use in Gabon, using household survey data. Our econometric results show that the primary factors stimulating Internet use consist of a high level of education and computer skills. As regards cell phone use, the main obstacles are economic. Finally, an individual's age has a positive impact on cell phone use and a negative impact on Internet use. The differences identified in both penetration and user profiles between Internet and cell phone service should motivate African governments to develop digital policies more heavily focused on a wider dissemination of cell phones in order to make innovative services and applications (e.g. in the field of health or education) available to as broad a population as possible.
Keywords: Internet use, cell phone use, IT diffusion, digital divide, Africa
JEL Classification: L5, L9, O14, O33, O57
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation