Since the study doesn’t appear to be available for review, the reported results prompt some questions and comments. It is unclear whether Nielsen accounted for the difference between urban and rural populations. The expansion of mobile infrastructure in rural areas may make mobile connectivity the preferred (or the only) way to access the Web for many Nigerians. Or, if rural areas were excluded from the study altogether, the results may reflect the different interests, needs or preferences of urban respondents, who are often wealthier and better educated. The variables impacting mobile Internet usage in Nigeria (and elsewhere) include access, network infrastructure, disposable income, and needs. The rate of adoption will be determined by how quickly handset functionality expands, prices fall, and infrastructure develops.
Regardless of the pace of mobile Internet adoption, the results of the Nielsen study add another layer of support to the argument that mobile phones are becoming an increasingly important computing device for a large number of Africans (and many other developing-country residents). Content and service providers, handset manufacturers and mobile operators have an undeniable opportunity for business growth, as long as they maintain a sharp focus on the user preferences and infrastructure limitations in these markets.
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