The mobile landscape in Africa is changing faster and more furiously than anyone imagined. Mobile internet users are dominating the market, according to Opera’s recently released State of Mobile Advertising report, and as the pace of mobile innovation and efficiency across the continent continues to accelerate, It’s clear that the last blue ocean of consumer demand for technology poses big opportunities for mobile operators and advertisers.
The report indicates that across the continent, roughly 57.8% of Africans are accessing the internet from their mobile devices. In some countries, such as Kenya, 99% of internet users gain access using a mobile device.
The preference of mobile devices for online activities over other mediums such as laptops or desktop computers should come as no big surprise, given the weak or non-existent landline infrastructure in many parts of Africa. In fact, in a number of regions, there never was a landline infrastructure to begin with. Mobile enabled anyone with a phone to access the internet.
While Africans are still more likely to use a non-smartphone than the global audience, the report indicates that smartphones, specifically Android devices, are a growing part of the mobile landscape. And Android users interact with the mobile web at twice the rate of feature phone users, and as they get into the hands of more of the African population, mobile internet use is bound to increase. Case in point — in the submarkets of Middle, Northern and Southern Africa, the average number of page views and data consumed exceed the average.
The rapidly growing penetration of smartphones and the increased ease and use of the internet is also changing the way that Africans communicate and engage, and in turn, opening up new opportunities for advertisers. Taking a closer look at mobile users in Nigeria and South Africa, the data shows that social networking is the most popular activity, with high levels of consumption in that category. South African users consumed many more pages, however, which means there is significantly more inventory on social networking sites and apps for advertisers to consider.
App use is also something for advertisers take note of. While only about 5% of internet traffic in Africa comes from games and other apps, the report suggests this market will grow substantially as more users adopt smart devices. And the fact that app traffic tends to monetize better than web traffic still applies, meaning big opportunities in African markets.Given the prevalence of the mobile device in Africa, it makes sense for mobile operators to cater to the users and make it easy for them to access web content. Enter the “web pass.” These short term passes, which can be sponsored by brands or mobile operators, allow users who do not want to make a full commitment to hop on the internet for limited amounts of time. Web passes not only help operators bring new internet users online, but present a way for sites to attract users, or for brands to offer valuable incentives to engage customers.
Mobile may even have the power to revolutionize critical sectors in Africa, such as healthcare. African countries with the most doctors per capita account for 90% of impressions to health sites, while countries with the fewest doctors per capital consume less than 1% of health-focused site impressions. These numbers reflect the healthcare “gap” and reveal large untapped audience for healthcare related sites and apps. Building such sites could be a shrewd move, providing African users affordable access to critical information, reducing the need for travel and perhaps even reducing the pressure on doctors.
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