Africa represents two faces of the same coin for investors, the least developed continent on the planet is also abundant in lands of opportunity, as our analysis of four African nations demonstrates. This report covers four of the most technologically advanced countries on the continent, which are also some of the most populous in Africa, and are located in different corners of the vast territory: Egypt (North), Nigeria (West), Kenya (East) and South Africa (South).
Internet coverage varies greatly in this strong group of four, with over half of the population connected at its best, in South Africa (28.5 million people), to a third, at its worst, in Egypt (over 30 million people). The number of internet users in real terms is large enough, however, to bring a smile to digital marketers worldwide. This is a continent with much investment potential, if carefully considered. One of the great roadblocks to digital development, yet, is the gender divide, as internet access tends to be very imbalanced whether one is born a male or female: 49% of Kenyan men vs. 31% of women have internet access; 48% of male Nigerians compared to just 29% of women. But, if mobile phones have changed Africa in the first decade of the 21st century and the lives of many women in particular, the logical next question is: what could smartphones (and wider internet access) do?
The scramble for Africa’s digital market has actually already started. Google’s Android One initiative, launched in 2014 with the aim of making low-cost smartphones standard in developing countries, has now expanded to 6 African countries including Nigeria, Egypt and Kenya in 2015. And Google is not alone. Google, Twitter and Facebook’s recent investments in Nigeria’s Andela put them in the front line of the digital race. But Google has more than one reason to celebrate. It reigns supreme across devices for search in all four African countries analysed, 99% in Egypt, 98% in Kenya, 95% in South Africa and 93% in Nigeria. Bing only counts as a somewhat acknowledgeable alternative in South Africa and Nigeria, where it channels roughly 4% of total search volume.
Google’s African expedition is one firmly rooted in the “lands of opportunity” prospect, and, most probably, the company is keeping a close eye on the record levels of population growth expected for the territory. Unlike the ageing population trends found in Europe, which should no longer be referred to as “the old continent” but increasingly “the continent of the old”, the UN predicts that, in Africa, “annual increases will exceed 42 million people per year and total population will have doubled to 2.4 billion” by 2050.
The Economist has pointed to the complexity of the continent’s development when it published two articles from opposite viewpoints in little over a decade. What at the turn of the millennium was seen as “Hopeless Africa” would then become “Africa: A hopeful continent” in 2013. At odds with what are the typical Western opinions of the continent, African GDP is in fact expected to rise on average 6% a year for a decade. As explained in same The Economist piece, “whereas currently not even half of Africa’s countries are what the World Bank calls “middle income” (defined as at least $1,000 per person a year), by 2025 the bank expects most African countries to have reached that stage”. Presently, a diamond in the rough, but still a diamond, the future does shine bright.
In this guide we cover the digital landscape in Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.
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