The rise of mobile and social media use in Pakistan

Taking pictures and video is also a popular activity among cell phone owners, with a median of 54% saying they do...
Published November 6, 2014

People in developing nations, including Pakistan, are quickly catching up on their adoption of technology, especially mobile and social media use.

Recent research shows that emerging countries are adopting mobile phones at a very fast pace. 82 per cent of the adult population of Kenya now owns a mobile phone, while 63pc in Mexico have adopted the use of cellphones in their daily lives.

Over the past decade, mobile phone ownership grew at an astoundingly fast rate in Pakistan, with 53pc of the adult population now owning a cellphone, up from just 5pc in 2002.

Ownership of smartphones, however, was less common in countries other than the US, where more than half the adult population owns a smartphone.

In Pakistan, only 3pc of the population owns a smartphone, while the remaining 50pc still use feature phones. In Lebanon, a remarkable 45pc of people have now switched to using smartphones.

The Pew Research Center says age plays a major factor in smartphone adoption as people under 30 across the world are more likely to own smart devices.

Texting and taking pictures is the most common activity among cell phone users. A median of 54pc of mobile phone users worldwide say they take pictures and video regularly.

In Pakistan, 19pc of mobile phone users say they take pictures or videos. 29pc say they get health information using their phones, while 38pc use them for text messaging.

Cell phone owners in Latin America generally are more likely than those in other countries to use mobile phones for texting.

For instance, two-thirds or more of cell phone owners in Venezuela (77pc) and Chile (67pc) say they regularly snap pictures or shoot video with their phones.

But less than four-in-ten mobile owners in Tunisia (36pc), Lebanon (35pc), Uganda (27pc) and Pakistan (19pc) say the same.

Internet usage is still very uncommon in Pakistan.

The Pew Research Center says that among 24 emerging and developing nations it surveyed earlier this year, half or more use the internet, at least occasionally, in six of those nations.

In contrast, 25pc or less go online in Indonesia (23pc), Uganda (12pc), and Pakistan (8pc).

Pew says internet usage is strongly correlated with income. Generally, the higher a country’s GDP per capita, the higher its percentage of internet users. This explains the low internet penetration in Pakistan.

Ironically, a very small percentage of people in Pakistan even have access to landlines. According to a Pew report, only 4pc of people surveyed said they had a working landline telephone in their house.