The entire continent of Africa is regarded as the “mobile continent”. With a massive 70% mobile penetration, the market is perfect for various investments focused on mobile technology. Combine this with continent’s median age of 19 and you can see why some internet-based companies are interested.
However, even companies like Facebook cannot find the immediate success they’re hoping for.
Investing in Africa
Manji Cheto, vice president of Teneo Intelligence, told Quartz: “Africa’s attractiveness to companies such as Facebook is a no-brainer… Yet, the continent’s low internet penetration was always likely to constrain the company’s ability to significantly boost its user numbers.”
This must be clarified. Just because there is a large mobile penetration does not mean there’s a lot of internet usage. Not all mobile phones are accessing the internet.
Despite this, more people are and there is greater investment in getting Africa connected. This will still take some time. As Sonia Jorge, Executive Director of the Alliance for Affordable Internet, wrote on CNN:
“With just one in five Africans online today, Africa has a long road ahead. Though the technology to beam the Internet to every corner of the continent exists, billions remain shut out from the digital revolution for a simple reason: they can’t afford to connect. Internet costs in Africa are among the highest in the world, preventing many from experiencing the benefits of digital access.”
Despite this, we are seeing large growth in online retail shopping.
This is especially the case in South Africa. As one Paypal survey shows, online shopping in South Africa will rise to R46 billion in 2017. Further, six out of ten South African internet users over the age of 18 shopped online in the past 12 months.
Retail shopping in general is central to the country. For example, retail shopping could mean the country dodging a recession. Of course, all this depends on functioning, stable and well-managed retail sites. For example, a point-of-sale (POS) in South Africa requires the best software, to keep the store functioning.
Overall, we’re seeing a greater acceptance and introduction of more internet users in Africa. These users are mostly on mobile phones, too, thanks to the enormous market penetration. The more the internet is accessible, the more everyone benefits. We see this in terms of the economy and, therefore, the lives of ordinary people.