WhatsApp dominates Africa’s mobile traffic

Sandvine has released its latest Global Internet Phenomena report, which revealed what people use their broadband services for. According to the report, Africa is a region with potential for growth, but few understand what the traffic composition in the region is.

“Thanks to being deployed in over 20 networks in the region, Sandvine is able to publish mobile usage statistics for a third straight year,” the company said

In North America, mobile Internet traffic is dominated by YouTube and Facebook says Sandvine. YouTube accounts for nearly 20 percent of all mobile traffic, and Facebook tops 16 percent.

In  Africa, for instance, in terms of mobile traffic, the continent’s most dominant service is a tool that many in the US haven’t even heard of: WhatsApp.

WhatsApp is the smartphone messaging app Facebook bought for about $22 billion last year, and according to Sandvine—which helps big ISPs monitor and manage all the bits moving across their networks—it accounts for nearly 11 percent of all traffic to and from mobile devices in Africa.

This shows just how popular WhatsApp is across the continent, in large part because it lets people exchange texts without paying big fees to carriers. And it shows that people are using the service for more than just texting. Like other messaging services, it’s a way of trading photos and videos, too. And this year, the company expanded the service so it can make Internet phone calls, echoing services like Skype. According to Dan Deeth—the author of a new report from Sandvine on Internet traffic trends—those high traffic numbers reflect a shift towards voice calling as well as photo and video sharing.

“It’s a mix,” he says. “The texting is the smallest part. Once you get into photos and sending videos to each other and voice calling, that’s when traffic really starts to creep up.”

WhatsApp AfricaClick to Open Overlay Gallery

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