New BBG Gallup Data Shows Dramatic Rise in Mobile Use in Nigeria (Video)

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Washington, D.C. — Mobile phone use across Nigeria has increased dramatically, and the media gap between Hausa speakers and others has narrowed, according to new data issued by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) and Gallup.

“The big takeaways today are the rise of mobile web along with the continued dominance of radio and TV for news,” said Bruce Sherman, Director of the BBG Office of Strategy and Development.

The BBG, in partnership with Gallup, presented the findings about Nigerian media consumption habits from a multilingual, national survey conducted in the country between March 9 and April 7, 2012.

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The new data shows that the Nigerian media market is dominated by radio and television, though mobile and Internet technologies are increasing in importance. 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. Mobile device ownership continues to grow; almost three-fourths of Nigerians (73.1%) now say they have their own mobile device, compared with 62% in late 2010.

The findings also show that Nigerians are using mobile devices to access other media platforms. Overall, about 4 in 10 past-week listeners say they used a mobile phone to listen to the radio, with Hausa speakers somewhat less likely than non-Hausa speakers to have done so. Additionally, Robert Tortora, Chief Methodologist and Regional Research Director of Gallup, cited the rising number of “super-connected” who both have mobile phones and accessed the Internet in the last 30 days.

A man using his cell phone stands near the wreckage of a crashed passenger plane in Lagos, Nigeria, Sunday, June 3, 2012. (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell)

Mobile devices are providing much more timely access to news and information. “Like the issue of the plane crash, my friend told me on Facebook…It could have taken me two to three hours before the network news will carry it,” said one focus group respondent in a separate BBG-sponsored research project, referring to a June, 2012, crash that killed 150 people near Lagos.

“We have a paradigm shift toward mobile web, as mobile is becoming increasingly ubiquitous in Nigeria. We’re seeing a lot of use of mobile beyond voice calls,” said William Bell, Research Director for the International Broadcasting Bureau.

Voice of America reaches Nigeria across all platforms, languages, and programs on a weekly basis. VOA radio broadcasts 13 hours of original programming per week in Hausa, including four 30-minute shows Monday through Friday and three on Saturday and Sunday. In addition, both services offer live and recorded broadcasts over the Internet as well as SMS services that send mobile phone users the latest news via text. VOA now reaches 21 percent of adults Nigerians weekly (nearly 20 million people), and among Hausa speakers VOA’s reach is even higher, with 36% listening each week.

The BBG’s global audience research program is conducted in partnership with Gallup. The data on Nigeria, like that on Iran and Tibet released earlier this summer, is illuminating as it shows how communications technologies are spreading even as traditional broadcasts in radio and TV continue to play a primary role as news distribution platforms. This research informs the current and future operations of the agency’s broadcasts in 59 languages to more than 100 countries.