Sidestepping interconnect fees, South Africans show innovation
The South African cellular market reached a milestone of 50-milion connections at the end of 2008 – but only 68% of these represented individual users.
This is the first key finding from preliminary research conducted by World Wide Worx for its 2009 annual Mobility study.
The research shows that the average number of SIM connections, or active cellphone accounts, per cellphone user in South Africa began to grow steadily after pre-paid accounts were introduced in 1996. It grew from an average of 1 SIM card per phone user in 1997 to 1.2 per user in 2003 and to 1.47 per user at the end of 2008. The gap between users and connections is expected to continue to grow as both consumers and businesses find more innovative approaches to cellphone usage.
“This gives the impression that every South African has a cellphone, but that is obviously not possible,” says World Wide Worx MD Arthur Goldstuck, who is leading the Mobility 2009 project. “It’s become clear that many pre-paid users have a SIM card for each major network, to avoid incurring the interconnection fee charged for calls between networks. The low cost of new SIM cards – as little as 50c for a starter pack – also gives anyone the ability to have more than one number.”
The interconnect fee adds R1.25 to the cost of every call, and has prompted new approaches to cellphone usage in South Africa. Mobility 2009 will also reveal further innovative approaches taken by both consumers and business users to make their cellular lives more effective.