Document: Mobile Usage at the Base of the Pyramid in South Africa


<p>Mobile phones are the primary means of accessing information or communicating for those who live at the base of the pyramid [citizens with low income]. It is likely that the mobile phone will therefore also be the preferred medium to provide value-added services to those at the BoP, whether they be private users or informal businesses, for the foreseeable future. Although the prepaid mobile model has brought voice and text services to this group, sustainable, replicable models for enhanced services, products and applications are far more limited.

The following regulatory bottlenecks require urgent attention if the growth of the sector, particularly the mobile sector, the main conduit to services for the poor, is not to be stunted.

• If backbone competition unfeasible, consolidate state-owned entities, unbundle backbone elements and create open access carrier network.
• Enable resale of fixed-broadband (ADSL), to make it cheaper and to compete with mobile broadband.
• Ensure access to facilities at cost (including reasonable ROR), with favorable terms for co-location.
• Coordinate and schedule right-of-way access at national, provincial and local levels.
• Free up and release critical spectrum for wireless broadband through competitive evaluationand allocation of spectrum, and coordinate spectrum refarming and migration.
• Encourage competition through service-neutral licensing and cost-based interconnection regime.
• Reduce costs and prevent unnecessary duplication through incentivising infrastructure sharing.
• Remove special taxes/duties on ICT equipment and services, bring down prices, grow services and general tax base.
• Use existing unused USF levies to build out network in underserved areas through reverse bidding to service areas and in support of demand stimulation strategies including e-skills development.

Table of Contents

<p>Table of Contents

Introduction 7
Status of ICT in South Africa 11
Market Overview 13
Pricing 14
Conceptual Framework 16
Technical Dimensions of the m-App-Ecosystem 17
OS vs. Platform-based Systems 21
Level of Sophistication 22
Understanding the BoP and how they are communicating 24
Mobile Use 24
Internet Use and Social Networking 29
Computer Use 34
ICT Access and Use by Informal Businesses 35
Conclusions:Understanding the BoP 38
Mobile Applications and Developers in South Africa 39
Entertainment: Games, Videos and Music 41
Health 42
Job Hunting and Education/Learning 43
M-Government Services 45
Conclusions: Mobile Applications and Developers in South Africa 49
Systems, Platforms and m-App Development 51
Facebook 51
Vodacom 52
Mxit 53
Conclusions: Systems, Platforms and M-Apps Development 56
Conclusions and Recommendations 58
Which M-app Ecosystem? 58
Development of a Vibrant ICT Ecosystem in South Africa 61
References 62
Appendix: Methodology 66
Household &amp; Business Survey 68
Focus Groups 70
List of Interviewees 71</p>

Cover: Mobile Usage at the Base of  the Pyramid in South Africa