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Democratising access to connectivity

The cost of smartphones remains a key barrier for people to get connected.

connected climate

A third of the planet—2.6 billion people—are still offline.

Globally, 38% of the world's population (3 billion people) are not using mobile internet despite living in areas with mobile broadband coverage.

The usage gap remains almost eight times the size of the coverage gap.

There are many barriers preventing the use of mobile broadband, including lack of awareness, low digital skills, and the prohibitive upfront cost of smartphones.

Given that smartphones are increasingly the main gateway to digital services, lowering the cost of devices is key to addressing the digital divide.

Understanding the challenges to universal smartphone access

Smartphone ownership is the lowest in emerging markets.

Women are less likely to own a smartphone than men.

Only 45% of adults in emerging markets own a smartphone, compared to 76% in advanced economies.

Smartphones can cost over 70% of the average income in less-developed countries, making them unaffordable.

How we are increasing smartphone access

Assets - Easy2Own

In South Africa, our Easy2Own payment plan allows customers to purchase a smartphone with a one-off deposit with options to pay it off monthly, weekly, or daily.

Digital gender gap


The digital gender gap continues to grow in many less-developed countries.

In 2023, 70% of men were using the internet globally, compared with 65% of women. This means that globally, there are 244 million more men than women using the Internet in 2023.

However, in 2023, only 30% of women in less-developed countries used the Internet, compared to 93% in high-income countries.

Yet, women who have access to mobile internet via a smartphone have higher levels of well-being compared to women who only have access to a basic or feature phone.

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