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Anthropology of Smartphones and Smart Ageing Blog


Anthropology of Smartphones and Smart Ageing


The boom of Smartphones and social media in Cameroon – by Patrick Awondo

By Laura Haapio-Kirk, on 22 January 2018

According to a French media study published in March 2017, smartphone usage has experienced a marked increase in Cameroon and other African countries in 2016. Quoting from the study, Médiamétrie notes: “in Cameroon, the number of homes with smartphones has increased by 43% to 72.2% just in the second half of 2016” [1]. This gives Cameroon, a central African country of 23 million inhabitants, one of the highest rates of smartphone use in Africa. Médiamétrie, also measured the performance of social networks in Cameroon for the first time in 2016. The results show that 68.2% of individuals aged 15 and over are registered on a social network, including 75.3% among those aged 15-24. Facebook is the most popular network followed by Google+, Instagram and Twitter. Though the survey was limited to the four main cities and may not reflect rural usage.

Another study suggests that in 2016 Cameroon reached internet penetration rate of 21%, a rise in one year from 11% [2]. These results are intriguing but leave open the question as to how the daily life of Cameroonians has been impacted by smartphones and social media. For example, how do smartphones and social media reframe social interactions among families and groups? Another important question concerns differences in the age-related usage of smartphone and social media in this country of a predominantly young population (45% of people are less than 15 years old). How do smartphones, social media, and health apps change the experience of ageing?

These questions are central to my research which aims to understand the way smartphones are changing the experience of mid-life and to consider the implications for mHealth in Cameroon. Working in Yaoundé for the coming 16 months, I will investigate the changing meaning of age and the impact of app culture especially for 40-70 year olds who are often ignored in studies of smartphone use. Studying such a group in a predominantly youthful place will no doubt be challenging, but offers an opportunity to better inform mHealth design from an under-represented perspective.

– Patrick Awondo

[1] http://www.mediametrie.fr/television/communiques/l-audience-de-la-television-de-la-radio-et-l-usage-des-reseaux-sociaux-au-cameroun.php?id=1694

[2] Jumia, GSMA Mobile Report We are Social, 2017

7 Responses to “The boom of Smartphones and social media in Cameroon – by Patrick Awondo”

  • 1
    Achille Fankem wrote on 1 July 2018:

    Dear Patrick,

    Thank you for this insight on the smartphone penetration in Cameroon. I am currently working on a project which is based on such data, especially the impact on the 40 – 70 year olds. Is there any way I could stay up to date with your research? Let me know if you have any questions.

    Thank you!

  • 2
    Akong Devert wrote on 17 July 2018:

    Thanks very much for the article, Patrick. It will help me back up my report of digital divide in Cameroon.

  • 3
    Mohamed Abdulrahman Ghasia wrote on 25 November 2019:

    Dear Patrick,
    I am so happy to have read your post and research on smartphone and aging. I am researching on micro-mobile learning, the use of mobiles with short learning instructions to offer knowledge to learners of different age.
    I am curious to learn how mobiles shapes the lives the aging communities. May be micro-mobile learning fits better with aged individuals as well.

    best wishes,

  • 4
    What's Driving the Growing Trend of Smartphone Betting in Africa – Roekeloos wrote on 22 December 2019:

    […] in the past few years. For instance, Cameroon has 72% of registered social media users between the age of 15 to 24 in 2016. And that number is steadily […]

  • 5
    WhatsApp is changing agri-business in Cameroon | Africasgotgame wrote on 21 July 2020:

    […] Like most parts of Africa, WhatsApp is arguably the most used messaging and social media platform in Cameroon given that more than half of citizens of the central African nation own a smartphone, according to studies by a French outfit. […]

  • 6
    Fouda Maxime wrote on 6 October 2020:

    Avec beaucoup d’intérêt, j’ai parcouru votre production monsieur Awondo. Elle rend compte de l’influence de l’évolution du temps sur les activités humaines, et différents cadres de nos sociotopes… J’ai soutenu un Ph.D dans le domaine de la fiscalité et du numérique, et cet axe de recherche continue d’intéresser les travaux actuels. Je suis disposé à tout partage scientifique. Merci
    Fouda Maxime

  • 7
    gerald wrote on 21 May 2021:

    it looks like smartphone and social media usage won’t stop growing. it alarming how many people are starting to develop addictions to them. apparently more than 270 million people suffer from social media addiction alone. (source: https://famemass.com/social-media-addiction-statistics/) I just hope people wake up and realize what’s going on before it’s too late!

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