The mobile transformation in Africa

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There is an African proverb that says “When the music changes, so does the dance”. The African mobile market has seen a turnaround turn from traditional calls and texts to 3G and mobile internet unexpectedly. This will require re-evaluating of many business models to change to suit and take advantage of this revolution. Android smartphones and tablets have taken the continent by storm as many African countries are snapping up the low-cost, gray-market phone that is now flooded everywhere hence a majority of the continent own a smartphone.

The continent has seen more and smarter phones prices going down such as an unlocked Android-powered 3G smartphone, made by Chinese mobile maker Huawei which was selling for $85 on the streets of Kenya last year now goes for $50 and in Zimbabwe, one can get a smartphone for only $ 24.This cancels out the belief that existing smartphone users are concentrated in the wealthier markets and urban areas.

According to the latest figures from industry regulator NCA. The number of mobile subscriptions in Ghana has increased by 1.4 percent to 30.78 million in January 2015 compared to 30.36 million in December 2014, an enormous increase of 108.48 percent. The Communications Authority of Kenya reported, the number of internet users in the country has grown to reach 26.1 million translating to 64.3 per 100 inhabitants with access to the internet. The number of data/internet subscriptions grew by 10.8 percent to reach 16.4 million during the second quarter of the 2014/15 financial year, October to December 2014.

With all these changes going on mobile phones are revolutionizing Africa including the retail sector, more people are now able to shop online in the comfort of their home credit to mobile commerce. This growth is due to the increased availability of the internet and a growing generation of young, internet-savvy Africans who have embraced new technology. Although it is still in its infancy stages it has changed the retail store’s ball game for instance in South Africa most retail stores are now selling online.

In Nigeria they developed a virtual mobile application shopping mall. This seems to be the right time to also develop an adaptable business model, they say good timing is everything. I am personally fascinated by the fact that in East Africa, West Africa, and Southern Africa mobile banking has outgrown traditional banking, enabling previously unbanked consumers to receive remittances and also to send money to their loved ones.

Recently MFS Africa announced that customers of MTN Mobile Money and M-Pesa in East Africa will be able to transfer money to each other following an agreement between MTN Group and Vodafone Group to interconnect their mobile money services. This alliance between the region’s two biggest mobile money operators brings convenient and affordable international remittances between M-Pesa customers in Kenya, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique, and MTN Mobile Money customers in Uganda, Rwanda, and Zambia.

From mobile-commerce to mobile-health this month Airtel Kenya partners Medanta Africare to launch m-healthcare. The service will allow Airtel customers to access relevant health care in the comfort of their homes.  Mobile phones are transforming the lives of Africans in revolutionary ways. There is a lot of more enterprising business waiting to be born during this great revolution, do not be left out. “The Sun will rise and set regardless. What we choose to do with the light while it’s here is up to us. Journey wisely.”

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