Owing to the fact that access to current statistics on anything in Zambia is limited to non-existent. We paid ZICTA a visit to dig for gold in an effort to furnish our readers with the latest statistics on mobile and internet subscriptions in Zambia. Fortunately, there was an Economist who was cooperative enough to equip us with some of the information we needed.
The current official statistics that are found on the ZICTA website are from June 2012. Therefore, the numbers we have are approximately current and unofficial because of the word-of-mouth delivery. Our Economist source stated that there are currently over 10.5 million mobile network subscribers, with Airtel claiming the lion’s share of about 4 to 5 million of those. However with the ongoing sim registration process, these numbers are expected to be streamlined as the process will cut down on duplicate or multiple subscribers. For example, one person could have more than one active Airtel sim card. However, after the completion of sim registration, those multiple sim cards will be credited to only one subscriber. The source also said that 77% of the Zambian population have mobile phone access, meaning 7.7 persons out of 10 people.
What is particularly interesting to note is that approximately 2.6 million people have access to the internet and 98% of those people access the internet on mobile devices. Zambia has 104 districts where at least one mobile operator covers each district, although, this is not mandatory. Clearly, mobile devices are the first internet experience for most users in Africa. This is a stark contrast from our friends in the developed countries where computers are mainstream, that is, found in homes, schools, public libraries, and public arenas etc. This highlights the significance of mobile content in Zambia and the need to utilize this opportunity for a robust mobile penetration in the markets. Furthermore, it goes to show that more work still needs to be done in terms of spreading internet access. How can only 2.6 million out of roughly 14.08 million people have internet access? What these statistics are telling us is that, digital trends such as the mobile revolution cannot be ignored because the consumption of information is fast changing.