The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) has published its annual State of the ICT Sector report this week and it makes for an interesting read.

The report looks at the performance of the ICT sector in three main areas namely:

  • telecommunications
  • broadcasting
  • postal services

The authority says that it presents the report so that interested parties can make informed decisions regarding the local ICT sector.

So then, let’s take a look at the local telecommunications space or rather the hardware that enables it.

Back in September 2016, Icasa reported smartphone penetration in the local market sat at 43.5 percent. In September 2018 that figure had nearly doubled to 81.7 percent.

The report doesn’t relay exact figures for ownership of smartphones but it does tell us how many smartphones that support LTE were in South Africa last year. Total LTE devices in South Africa in 2018 amounted to 12 644 364. The highest concentration of these devices is in Gauteng (4 million) and the lowest was the Northern Cape (220 700).

While the low numbers of LTE-enabled smartphones in Northern Cape might come as a shock, Icasa also looked at coverage for 3G and 2G.

As of September 2018, 3G coverage was available to 99 percent of South Africans while LTE coverage was only available to 85.7 percent of the population, up from 76.7 percent in 2017.

The report also reveals just how much South Africans have shifted away from making voice calls and sending text messages.

“Prepaid revenue mobile data increased by 8.5% [in 2018] whilst both prepaid revenue from mobile voice and messaging decreased by 2.9% and 22.4% in 2018, respectively,” Icasa stated.

For those wondering, total revenue from mobile data sales in South Africa equated to R47 068 742 797 by September 2018 while total revenue from MMS and SMS amounted to just R3 957 858 068.

One more interesting thing to note is that machine-to-machine mobile subscriptions increased in 2018. Icasa notes that M2M mobile-network subscriptions grew from 5.8 million to 6.9 million which is in-line with growth since 2016.

It really is incredible to see how South Africans have embraced the internet for their communication needs. This does make a degree of sense however because for most of South Africa, a mobile phone is the only way they can access the internet.

You can find the full State of the ICT Sector 2019 report over here if you’re looking for some lunchtime reading.

[Image – Foundry Co from Pixabay]