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Eye on

Africa

By

Tara

Seals

A

ccording to the African Development

Bank, Africa is the continent with

the world’s second-fastest growing

economy, and there’s little doubt that this

vibrant continent is making great strides,

with the economy expected to grow by

3.4 percent this year and 4.3 percent

in 2018, according to research in

the

African Outlook Report

.

International Agents

There are opportunities for service

providers and their partners that are

looking to participate in this market,

given that truly supercharging the

future revolves around improving

connectivity.

According to stats from Hoot-

suite, with the exception of North

Korea (where the internet is still

blocked), the countries with the low-

est levels of internet penetration are

all in Africa. Fewer than one in three

people across Africa has access

to the internet today, and current

growth trends suggest it will be well

into the 2020s before internet pen-

etration levels across the continent

pass the 50 percent mark.

At the same time, however, seven of

the 10 fastest-growing internet popula-

tions in the world are in the region, with

the number of users reported in Ethio-

pia more than tripling versus last year –

so there’s movement on this front.

Much of the most promising archi-

tecture for closing the gap is mobile;

African consumers are spending

more and more time on their mobile

screens, as this channel has become

the primary medium for connectivity

across the continent. In fact, We Are

Social’s

Digital in 2017

report shows

that 78 percent of web pages served

to web browsers in South Africa are

served to mobile devices. The num-

ber is greater than 80 percent in East

and West Africa. A large number of

these are feature phones, which ac-

counted for 56 percent of the market

last year, according to IDC. Smart-

phones grew 3.4 percent year on

year. In all, 215 million mobile hand-

sets were shipped in Africa during

2016, up 10.1 percent on 2015.

Interestingly, video is on the rise in the

region. Research from Twinpine shows that

78 percent of Kenyans and 60 percent of

Nigerians online watch videos using their

mobile phone. And, Hootsuite reported that

mobile social media use in Africa increased

by nearly 50 percent in 2016, although at

just 12 percent penetration across the re-

gion, there’s still plenty more room to grow.

More to Be Done

With connectivity growth in a stop-

start phase, there are many areas of op-

portunity for improvement where service

Map courtesy TeleGeography

Channel

Vision

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July - August, 2017

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