I know I’ve said it a lot of times, but mobile in Africa is hot! These stats are from Africa but think of the opportunities in the rest of the developing world too! Here is why I am starting to think it is the biggest tech opportunity right now:
*Everyone* here has mobiles
- Example; 40% mobile penetration in Zambia where 2/3 live of less than $1 a day. That must mean they prioritize communication pretty highly
- Last night a guy told me that his old grandfather, living in the village tribe, has a mobile.
- Mobiles are cheap here. I bought a phone for $12.
- In 2000, 11 million people in Africa had mobile phones. Five years later it was 200 million, and is now approaching 400 million.
- Growing faster than internet access, from 3 million users in 2000 to more than 100 million in 2010.
- Most people here don’t have a computer, mobile internet access is their only connection.
There is so little competition.
The is no eBay, no old publishing giants, no Yelp, no online supermarkets (no e-commerce in general) and so forth in most of these countries. I dont know about mobile, but in general terms the ambassador just told me that Denmark’s, my native country, percentage of exports to the entire African continent is less than 1% of total exports.
Filled with early adopters.
Africa is a world leader in “mobile web” technology. Internet-access-only-through-mobile has pioneered a lot of services the West still isn’t comfortable with. Mobile payments, mobile banking, mobile health and education services etc. So people are used to doing everything through their mobiles.
So what to build for this market?
- SMS isn’t dead. It is live and kicking. Most people still dont have internet, but use old fashioned mobiles. So anything that transmits time-critical info to mobile. Like new job notification, tenders coming available, deals in general, emergency info, traffic updates, news updates etc etc.
- Services that makes the most of the huge growth in phones with internet. Not necessarily smart phones.
A lot more tech entrepreneurs should be looking at this massive marked instead of making yet another product for the saturated Western market. Guilty as charged.
Lots of these stats are from UN’s ITU International Telecommunications Union via newsofafrica.org
My brilliant looks-and-feels like a toy phone. It works. Note the manufacturer.