SMS Whitepaper

According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), cell phone penetration in large parts of Africa has reached levels beyond 100%. The question remains: how can these respondents be included in public opinion polling? Especially, considering that the majority of this population uses cell phones with only basic functionality. The large penetration of smartphones or so-called ’feature phones’ as they are called in many regional areas of Asia, is yet to take hold in this area. Subsequently, another hurdle to data collection is the lack of internet among large parts of the population. In many urban areas the usage of internet hubs such as internet cafe remains the predominant way to access and exchange information. These hurdles significantly affect the way in which surveys can be conducted in these regions.

Nevertheless, as SMS services are very cost-effective in Sub-Saharan Africa, it could serve as a vital tool for an ad-hoc omnibus study on a national level. In this study, we outline the setup of a national survey using cell phone respondent as the sampling frame and discuss our fieldwork methodology and results. Implications such as non-response bias, incentives, and reminder notifications are also accounted for. Furthermore, improvements techniques to overcome some of these issues are discussed. Lastly, we assess the feasibility through comparison of different data collection methods such as  Face to Face interviews, CATI interviews, and online data collection. We also integrate the role of aspects  including sampling frame and financial viability.


This article was posted in the category SMS and contains the following keywords: SMS White paper, CATI, CATI interviews, online data collection