There is no doubt that mobile advertising is showing strong growth. Numbers from BuzzCity reveal that in its own network, 210.8 billion ads were served across the world – a 67% growth over 2012, with a mobile boom in Africa.
Google reports massive growth in mobile phone usage in Africa, with mobile subscription rates increasing from 24% in 2007, to 53% in 2011. Internet adoption lagged somewhat, 3.8% in 2011 in Africa, compared to 54% in Europe.
Google partnered with iHub Research in 2012 to find out why, conducting research in Kenya and Ghana. Costs of course are a major issue but access to data-enabled handsets is a larger barrier. A lack of understanding of data costs also came up.
Importantly, if mobile internet costs were more transparent, it might encourage more mobile subscribers to become mobile internet users.
Google is using these iNSIGHTS to pilot experiments in sub-Saharan Africa to learn more about how users interact with the mobile internet and find out how to improve adoption and ultimately, service.
But where Africa is indeed leading in mobile technology, is in the race to implement LTE, reports Informa Telecoms and Media. They forecast 350 000 LTE subscriptions in Africa at end 2012. “Market-leader Ericsson was the first out with LTE by year-end 2011 and held an estimated 60% market share by volume, providing the necessary experience and scale to support operators in the next phase of LTE network builds. To date, seven of the top 10 operators ranked by revenue in 2010 have selected LTE vendors for their network.”
Africa is in fact a hub of regional activity. BuzzCity looks at the African mobile marketplace:
SOUTH AFRICA: 57% growth in mobile market. Smartphone penetration grew to 32% and is rapidly becoming a mainstream device, BuzzCity reports. There are monetisation opportunities for domestic publishers as demand for content increases.
NIGERIA: 68% growth. Feature phones still dominate as smartphones only make up 10% of the market, with feature phones dominating. Nokia dominates the market, but their figures are down from 62% to 39%. “White box” phones are gaining in popularity.
KENYA: 45% growth year on year. Smartphones take 12% of the market with white box phones dominating. Kenyans are avid mobile surfers and more than 1 billion mobile ads are delivered each quarter.
GHANA, TANZANIA, EGYPT: are markets to watch as mobile market penetration grows. Egypt has high smartphone penetration at 33% and nearly 70% of Egyptians prefer to surf the internet using their mobile phones.
White box phones or ‘open phones’ are mobile phones produced by small, independent manufacturers with their own production setups, for the lower end of the market. They have their own brands and own shapes, so are not ‘grey market’.
BuzzCity notes that in Africa and Asia, mobile phones are used less for voice and more as devices to improve the quality of people’s daily lives, with creative apps and other mobile services such as mobile money, micro-financing, healthcare, farming, weather. Highlighted is the MoMaths teaching tool that targets the youth.
BuzzCity CEO, Dr KF Lai, says innovation is key in a mobile Africa. “Consumers are still willing to do more with their mobile phones, in fact we have seen an increase in mobile commerce, particularly for physical purchases in South Africa (33%). If this continues transactions for physical products may outpace mobile entertainment content this year. In addition, with the reduced cost of bandwidth and infrastructure continuing to improve over the coming year we will certainly see this reflected in the economic growth of the region.”
Informa Telecoms and Media expects the broadband experience in Africa to become more “nomadic” with the number of broadband connections over cellular networks reaching over 250 million by 2015.
The African continent is becoming more connected as adoption of new broadband-enabled devices rolls out: such as smart TVs, game consoles, tablets and smartphones. This includes quality cloud and video user experience to homes and offices, such as Ericsson’s new broadband network gateway, reports Informa.