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Comparing the Determinants of Internet and Cell Phone Use in Africa : Evidence from Gabon

  • Thierry Pénard

    (University of Rennes 1 - CREM, (UMR 6211 CNRS) & M@rsouin)

  • Nicolas Poussing


  • Gabriel Zomo Yebe

    (Université Omar Bongo de Libreville (Gabon))

  • Philémon Nsi Ella

    (Université Omar Bongo de Libreville (Gabon))

Within developed countries, the market penetration of cell phones and the Internet has progressed in tandem and the point of market saturation is nearly to be reached in both markets. In contrast, the African continent has been characterized by a more uneven level of progress, with the penetration of cell phones (41% in 2010) considerably outpacing the penetration of the Internet (9.6% in 2010). The question is then raised as to whether cell phone and Internet services in Africa are following the same path towards widespread diffusion, yet with a several-year time delay, or alternatively has the expansion of Internet use been constrained by the presence of specific obstacles? The objective of this article is to compare the determinants and hindrances of both Internet and cell phone use in Gabon, based on individual survey data. Our econometric results show that the primary factors stimulating Internet use consist of a high level of education and computer skill. Social neighborhood also plays a major role in the Internet adoption process. As regards cell-phone use, the main obstacles would be economic in nature. Finally, an individual's age has a positive impact on cell phone use and negative impact on Internet use. The differences identified in both penetration and user profiles between Internet and cell phone service should motivate African governments to develop digital policies more heavily focused on a wider dissemination of cell phones in order to make innovative services and applications (e.g. in the field of health or education) available to as broad a population as possible.

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Paper provided by Center for Research in Economics and Management (CREM), University of Rennes 1, University of Caen and CNRS in its series Economics Working Paper Archive (University of Rennes 1 & University of Caen) with number 201217.

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Date of creation: Mar 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:tut:cremwp:201217
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