Women have far lower levels of access to the internet than men across the African continent according to a report on barriers to mobile internet adoption in Africa, produced by the GSMA Intelligence in collaboration with the GSMA’s Connected Society team. The report was aimed at focusing on understanding the consumer barriers to digital inclusion in the region.
The survey carried out in several African countries, shows a gender gap in mobile phone ownership and internet usage. There is a gender gap in mobile ownership in six
out of the 13 markets, and particularly less mature mobile markets such as DRC and Ethiopia.
According to a GSMA Connected Women study, women in Africa identified cost as a major barrier to mobile phone adoption. Cost is a big barrier for women as they tend to be less financially independent than men. In the survey countries, the share of women in
wage employment in the non-agricultural sector is less than 45%, and is as low as 17% and 18% in Algeria and Egypt respectively.Wom
” Lower levels of education and technical literacy among women”
However, in all countries the gap in internet usage is much greater than that for mobile ownership. The gender gap in internet and mobile internet use is driven by various barriers, which women typically experience more acutely than men.
One reason for this is the lower level of education and technical literacy among women (see above). According
to GSMA Connected Women, only 25% of female mobile owners in DRC and 51% in Kenya reported that they could use mobile internet without any help, versus 42% and 63% of men respectively. Safety and harassment issues related to mobile internet use were also identified as a major issue, particularly for women. In Egypt, for instance, 55% of women
versus 42% of men reported that harassment from strangers is a barrier to them owning or using a mobile phone.