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Poll: Africans think increased internet access is good for society

South Africa's two most recent presidents snap photos during a party conference last December. Photo: Mujahid Safodien/AFP/Getty Images

A new Pew report looks at rising access to cell phones and the internet in six sub-Saharan African countries: South Africa, Senegal, Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and Tanzania.

The bottom line: Most Africans are encouraged by increases in internet access. Vast majorities think the internet improves education, the economy, personal relationships and (by a smaller margin) politics. Respondents are split on how it affects morality.

Key findings:

  • Internet usage is around 59% in South Africa, 25% in Tanzania, and around 40% in the other four.
  • 75%+ in all six countries, and 91% in South Africa, own a cell phone.
  • In all of these countries, if you're on the internet you're probably on social media. In Ghana, for example, 39% use the internet regularly and 32% use social media.

Why it matters: Across the six countries, 85% of internet users use it to stay in touch with family and friends, 53% use it for news, 46% use it to make or receive payments, 17% to shop and 14% take online courses.