Dr K F Lai (Africa) - Mobile: No Signs of Slowing in Africa

In this blog post, Dr K F Lai reviews the current mobile market in Africa based on a brand new mobility report from BuzzCity.

The mobile internet continues to grow globally, driven by ongoing consumer demand for mobile content and the need to be constantly connected. At BuzzCity, our latest quarterly report reveals tremendous growth of ads being served on mobile, a 95% increase year on year. In particular we have seen several African markets excelling in mobile. Nigeria is leaping ahead with an 83% increase in ads served, followed by Kenya with a 29% increase in Q1 and finally South Africa with an 18% increase. Ghana, Sudan, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe also feature in our top 50 list for ads served in Q1 of 2012.

Specifically Nigeria has evolved as a ‘hotspot’, by this we mean a country that is likely to generate rapid and exponential growth over the coming months. Having moved into fourth place (from eleventh in Q4 of 2011) and entered the ‘Billion’ Club (countries serving over  a billion ads per month) it does not come as a surprise that with 4G services also planned there will undoubtedly be further growth in this market. The majority of Nigerian surfers are located in urban areas such as Lagos state (34%) however more growth is expected as rural penetration (currently in low single digit percentages) grows.

Following closely behind Nigeria is Kenya in twelfth place, with a 29% increase in ad served we also expect this region to join the Billion Club in the coming quarter. Growth is likely to come with more mobile penetration in rural areas – at present Nairobi and Mombasa account for more than 64% of mobile surfing in Kenya. Female adoption is relatively high (29%) and is expected to grow and drive more usage.

The South African market is also ever-evolving, interestingly with equal male and female users.  Users in this country are mainly accessing entertainment and lifestyle content such as books, movies and music. Although the South African market remains Nokia-dominated, smartphones are gaining ground fast, led by Blackberry and Samsung.

Overall the African market is booming when it comes to mobile devices - the GSM Association report on Africa recently confirmed Africa as the fastest growing mobile market in the world, and the biggest after Asia.  Specifically Kenya, South Africa and Ghana have emerged as technology leaders of the region.  Key areas of innovation have been mbanking and mpayments with many initiatives related to communities, education and health. More mobile products will emerge as players match available infrastructure with innovation, and by adapting content, services and offers to local needs - particularly rural dwellers and women.

With the spotlight on Africa it is important that the whole mobile ecosystem – developers, marketers, retailers –focus on the customer and their journey to determine where to target their efforts and also reap the rewards.

By Dr K F Lai, CEO of BuzzCity