According to a report by Wireless Intelligence, African mobile connections reached about 547.5 million during the last three months of 2010 compared to about 523.6 million connections in Western Europe. Mobile price wars have also drastically increased on the continent, started primarily by Kenya mobile operator Airtel. In August of 2010, they slashed prices by 50%. Safaricom soon cut SMS rates and similar rate cuts have happened in countries like Tanzania and Egypt.
While these price cuts are great for customers, they are bad for business and industry margins have suffered. Despite this, mobile continues to provide significant opportunities for revenue expansion for African mobile operators. This is especially true when it comes to Internet access.
With a very limited Internet infrastructure, mobile has increasingly become the primary gateway to high-speed data. Opera, the most popular on the continent, accounts for more than half of Africa’s mobile Internet market according to their State of the Mobile Web report. Opera also reported that page views increased by 365%, unique users increased by 176% and data transferred increased by 331%.
Apps have also come to the forefront given the infrastructure challenges in Africa, a subject we’ve touched on before. In areas like healthcare, agriculture and banking, apps can become potential solution providers. Apps like iCow, a voice-based app which helps farmers effectively manage the breeding of cows and won the Apps 4 Africa contest, are now seen as sources of economic development innovation.
According to the app’s Founder, Kahumbu Stephanou, “Mobile phones are literally going to be the bridge between the digital world and developing countries. It’s not going to be laptops. It’s not going to be computers,” she said. “The space is…wide open for the tools to be used for teaching, or really, for educating people.”
This doesn’t seem far off the mark from what we experience in the US when it comes to the black community. We are extremely active in the mobile space and outpace other groups in mobile phone and app usage. We talk and text the most. We are more likely to have an Internet-connected mobile device than an actual computer. For those thinking about the digital divide or organizations looking to touch the black community, mobile should be a primary focus.
via TNW AfricaCategory: Africa 2.0, Featured | Tags: africa, African Americans, cell phones, Digital Divide, icow, Mobile Apps, mobile phones