Friday, January 13, 2006

Dean Bubley: Thoughts from Africa

After some time away from blogging during the holidays, Dean Bubley is back posting his thoughts on the mobile scene in Africa at his Disruptive Wireless blog. Here are some of his intersting observations from a recent trip:

  • I bought 3 prepay SIMs while I was away: 2 in South Africa (Vodacom, at about $3 each, I lost the first one...) and one in Mozambique ($2 on mCel, including $2 of credit). So, these supposed "2 billion mobile subscribers" worldwide? Just how many are duplicate SIM owners? I could quite believe that 10-20% of the global total are double-counted
  • Plenty of GSMA-inspired low-cost Moto C115's in evidence, but also quite a few high-end devices. Notable that a few shops in Maputo (capital of Mozambique) stock Moto RAZRs, Nokia N-series and other similar handsets, while Motorola has an extensive advertising campaign in the region for RAZRs - and not just in affluent areas either (I saw a huge poster in the JoBurg township of Soweto) Also quite telling that there seem to be various 3G phones sold in countries which only have 2G networks.
  • Very few non-Moto/Nokia phones in evidence. A few Samsungs (especially in S Africa), but I hardly saw any LG's, S-Es or others.
  • In Mozambique, everyone sells prepay top-ups. Clothes shops, pharmacists, petrol stations, hawkers on the street. Advertising is everywhere.
  • Public Internet access seems considerably rarer than in Asia or South America. No Bolivia-style Internet shops full of schoolkids doing homework and IM'ing