It’s common to say that Africa has become one of the fastest, if not the fastest, growing markets for mobile phones in the world. According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the UN’s agency for information and communication technologies (ICT), the African market expanded nearly twice as fast as Asia’s in recent years. According to a GSM Association (GSMA) report on Africa released in 2011, the number of subscribers on the continent has grown almost 20 percent each year from 2006 to 2011, turning Africa into the biggest mobile market after Asia with more than 735 million subscribers expected by 2012 out of 1 billion people in 54 countries.
According to Gartner, smartphone sales exceeded feature phone sales for the first time in mid-2013 at the international level however this was not the case yet in Africa. Indeed, technology is spreading slower in the continent where most of the mobile growth is still being fueled by feature phones. The priority for Africans remains to communicate easily as most of the facilities necessary for very strong growth in smartphones’ mobile web are yet to be installed. There have been real developments around the 3G networks but it seems the sales have not met the targets as expected. “In developing countries, high data costs are usually the primary inhibitor for the successful adoption of 3G,” highlighted an AMGOO Telecom news release about the Algerian market.
Yet “Africa is poised to become a hotbed for mobile growth and commerce in the coming years,” according to Opera Mediaworks’ State of Mobile Advertising report which saw mobile as the “the driving force behind the continent’s accelerating internet adoption.” The trend has been confirmed by imports figures. According to a report published in April 2015 by the International Data Corporation (IDC), 2014 saw a record 83 percent growth in smartphones in Africa. The larger supply of smartphones priced below $100, notably these including dual SIM technology, has been instrumental in the current fast growth trend. As a result, from education to retail, Africa’s smartphone wave is creating a myriad of large-scale business opportunities in many sectors. Africa’s smartphone revolution may even be entering its second stage already as a number of Africans may replace their first smartphone or purchase their very first one within the next 2 years.