Africa’s mobile users are embracing local apps

Posted on January 19, 2014 06:48 pm

A new study shows that a rising number of mobile users are continuing to embrace the newest generation of mobile applications developed by African companies, who see a gold mine in the continent’s largely untapped potential for smartphone growth and this has made leading brands to sell phones with pre installed apps from Africa with most notable one being Samsung. Smartphones now make up a substantial proportion of total phone shipments to Africa with low end android powers phones costing as low as $35 and there is a 31% of the projected 50 million mobile devices to be shipped this year in the region will be smartphones, compared to 8 percent of the 39 million devices in 2013 and the numbers can only go up. The researchers credit the trend to the proliferation of cheap Android phones and the free apps available for that operating system. Previous studies have confirmed that Africa is an absolutely app-hungry market although its clear that only 1.5% of Africans have will to pay for apps compared to the 5% global average. This makes apps such as Matatu, MPayer, M-Farm, M- Pedigree, Slim trader, Mocality, Afrinolly, Zimbile hugely popular, because some of them allow the user to access information freely and real time.

The apps have already garnered huge followings in Africa more than 10 million users on monthly basis for the top 50 apps in the continent thanks to their features as well as extras that include location based services. Unfortunately, most African tech companies behind the apps don’t expect to immediately make any revenue from their services just like similar ventures in more established markers but from my experience in the industry, I strongly believe the monetization of their services will come in couple of years, once the smartphone market in the continent has matured. Mobile carriers have seen their data revenue stream increase mainly driven by rising number of apps downloads and usage and most are seizing on the uptick in mobile data subscriptions that now accounts for close 20% of total revenue on average for most of them. In Kenya, Zambia, South Africa, Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania and Ghana, studies have shown that data package subscriptions for mobile Internet continue to experience fast growth. And even though the revenue development from these packages isn’t very rosy at this point, African mobile carriers are definitely seeing positive patterns in terms of traffic driven by among others apps developed by African companies for Africa.

Contador Harrison