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.

Go deeper

Updated 3 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: McConnell urges White House not to strike stimulus deal before election — Republican senators defend Fauci as Trump escalates attacks.
  2. Economy: Why the stimulus delay isn't a crisis (yet).
  3. Health: Studies show drop in COVID death rate — The next wave is gaining steam — The overwhelming aftershocks of the pandemic.
  4. Education: Schools haven't become hotspots — San Francisco public schools likely won't reopen before the end of the year.

The hazy line between politics and influence campaigns

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The recent firestorm over the New York Post’s publication of stories relying on data from a hard drive allegedly belonging to Hunter Biden shows the increasingly hazy line between domestic political “dirty tricks” and a foreign-sponsored disinformation operation.

Why it matters: This haziness could give determined actors cover to conduct influence operations aimed at undermining U.S. democracy through channels that just look like old-fashioned hard-nosed politics.

59 mins ago - World

"I stood up for that": Pope Francis voices support for same-sex civil unions

Pope Francis at St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. Photo: Vatican Pool - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

Pope Francis voiced his support for same-sex civil unions for the first time as pope in the documentary “Francesco,” which premiered Wednesday at the Rome Film Festival, per the Catholic News Agency.

Why it matters: The pope’s remarks represent a break from the position of the Roman Catholic Church, which has long taught that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered" and contrary to natural law.