The growing demand for data in Africa
The second largest continent in the world and a promising region for investors and Fintech innovation – Africa is currently displaying massive growth. Over the last two decades the African continent has been transformed through various political, economic and social movements. These transformations have created a new and digital-hungry customer-base and countless opportunities for investment, and innovation which has led to the springing up of hundreds of companies looking to serve this demographic.
New technologies brought about by Fintech companies such as Cellulate, Jumo, Paga and value transfer platforms such as Ding, are responding to the demand, and are answering some of Africa’s biggest challenges in terms of internet connectivity, finance, agriculture, healthcare and power. They are accelerating the region into the next stage of development and helping African consumers to leapfrog directly into the latest technologies.
“New tech and ‘leapfrogging’ as it is known are playing a vital role in changing the way the continent works and helping many to surpass poverty”
The millions of new consumers that have entered the market recognise these positive trends and are now demanding better services and a variety of new products. New tech and ‘leapfrogging’ as it is known are playing a vital role in changing the way the continent works and helping many to surpass poverty. The most prominent example of this in African society is the large-scale adoption of mobile phones over fixed-line technology – something which had simply not been available to the majority of the population in the past, with companies such as Nokia assisting in the rollout of 5G. Never before have so many users had access to the digital world of mobile banking and mobile internet – which as we know have the power to transform society and change lives.
More and more, key consumer brands are tailoring their service to meet the growing demand among this demographic of customers; moving from the one size fits all model – to one which is tailored to the more realistic needs of customers and answering the need for mobile-first.
A case in point
Netflix is just one of the companies embracing local market realities and providing African users with mobile compatible deals to their services. Mobile-only subscription plans are cheaper, familiar and much more agreeable to the average African user. After its initial launch in 2016, the US streaming giant is now releasing original content inspired by the African movie industries almost five years later. The demand is such that a strategic change of direction was warranted.
Netflix is offering African users with two plans, “Mobile” and “Mobile+”. These plans are much more affordable than Netflix’s Basic, Standard and Premium plans which are more favored in America and Europe. Consequently, the mobile plans limit users’ flexibility. The Mobile plan limits users to streaming only from their smartphone or a tablet, and the Mobile+ plan includes the option of streaming from a laptop. Netflix first tested mobile subscriptions in Africa in Egypt in 2018 and later in South Africa in 2019 before attempting to conduct a mass-rollout of the offer more broadly across the continent.
In data we thrive
The demand for mobile compatible or mobile-only deals is undisputed and evidenced by companies such as Netflix catering for this – which is in turn driving up demand for improved data plans among African consumers – hungry to take advantage of these offers. Many companies can be assured that a strategic rethink to take advantage of this heavy mobile usage of most African countries, will be a profitable one. Removing barriers for access to products and services is a relatively safe bet to make.
From a business viewpoint, all of the data suggests that Africa’s utilisation of mobile technology is going to continue to increase for many years to come. It is estimated that approximately half a billion Africans will use mobile internet across sub-Saharan Africa by 2025, and smartphone penetration will increase from 44% in 2019 to 65% across the region. Africa’s largest internet market, also Nigeria is predicted to host over 150 million mobile internet users by then.