I am skeptical of much polling data, even in the United States,* but with that said I have enjoyed pondering the recent Broadcasting Board of Governors/Gallup data on media consumption in Nigeria. Excerpts from the full report (.pdf):
Almost 9 in 10 Nigerians (87.4%) say they listened to radio in the past week, and nearly three-quarters (72.5%) say they watched TV. Though incidence of radio use is similar in urban and rural environments, Nigerians who live in cities are more likely than those in rural areas to have watched TV in the past week — 89.9% vs. 67.8%, respectively.
Internet use appears to have increased dramatically since the past survey, most likely driven by the sharp increase in access to the Web via mobile phones. The 2012 Gallup/BBG survey finds that one-fifth of the population has accessed the Internet in the past week (20.4%), compared with 6% in December 2010. Mobile phone ownership continues to grow; almost three-fourths of Nigerians (73.1%) now say they have their own mobile phone, compared with 62% in late 2010.
Respondents were also asked more specifically about how often they use different forms of media to get news. Hausa-speaking Nigerians are significantly more likely than those who do not speak Hausa to say they listen to news on the radio every day or most days (68.7% vs. 53.3%, respectively).
The whole briefing is well worth reading. One obvious takeaway is that radio and mobile phones are clearly the media reaching the largest shares of the population. This has implications for how news circulates, how government and other groups disseminate information and messages, etc. Another takeaway is also the sheer pace of the transformations occurring within the media ecology; patterns of media usage may look quite different a decade from now.
For those interested in learning more, I recommend the GSMA’s Africa Mobile Observatory 2011 report (.pdf). Mobile penetration in Africa is growing rapidly, so GSMA’s figure of 54% mobile penetration in Nigeria (p. 13) is already out of date – mobile penetration there is apparently on track to top 80% by 2015 – but the report’s findings are worth a read. From the executive summary (p. 5):
The mobile industry in Africa is booming. With over 620 million mobile connections as of September 2011, Africa has overtaken Latin America to become the second largest mobile market in the world, after Asia. Over the past 10 years, the number of mobile connections in Africa has grown an average of 30% per year and is forecast to reach 735 million by the end of 2012.
Fierce competition has driven down prices and increased penetration. Price wars have been common across the continent as operators compete for market share with innovative revenue and pricing options – operators have reduced prices an average of 18% between 2010 and 2011, making mobile connectivity more broadly affordable to the masses. 96% of subscriptions are pre-paid with voice services currently dominating, however the uptake of data services is increasing rapidly.
*On polling, my skepticism owes to a variety of factors, especially two: the way question phrasing can influence respondents’ answers, and the difficulty of reaching certain populations (and therefore the difficulty of generating responses that reflect the entire populace). I am also suspicious of the ways in which polling is manipulated in the service of political interests. I understand that credible pollsters work to minimize these dangers, but I remain wary.