Mobile phones in Africa

Whilst the Western world is moving from desktops and laptops to mobiles, much of the developing world is going straight to mobile. As SayaMobile pointed out, 4.6 billion jumped to mobile without using PCs first. The proliferation in mobile devices will provide ever more platforms to engage with people in developing regions – in Africa, there have been 316 million new mobile phone subscribers since 2000 (source: BBC).

Here’s a quote from TechCrunch:

In Asia and Africa alone, Saya Mobile estimates that there are 580 million — with upwards of 70 percent of them on Internet-enabled devices, many of them not smartphones. There is a clear opportunity for disruption here. As with other developing markets, messaging is a popular way for people to communicate in Africa. Part of that is because it is cheaper than phone calls.

But in a region where money is so very tight (per capita income in Ghana, for example, is 4 percent that of the U.S.) those messages still cost something (up to 5 percent of their monthly salary going to SMS), and so Saya is offering to make it even cheaper — literally 1,000 times cheaper: Traditional SMS messages can cost $0.01 each to send (with photo messages costing more). Saya’s service uses so little data that the price works out to $0.01 per month. In a market where users buy phone credits by prepay to use flexibly across voice, data, and text services, this spells a major bargain.

Saya is also riding a bigger trend of data-based mobile instant messaging services gradually taking over from SMS. This year, there will be 5.9 trillion mobile IMs sent, compared to 8.6 trillion SMSes. But mobile IMs have been catching up, and by 2016 the balance will be 20.3 trillion mobile IMs to 9.6 trillion SMSs.

(source: TechCrunch)

There’s a very clear demonstration at the TechCrunch link from Robert Lamptey and Badu Boahen of SayaMobile. Note also what Lamptey says about advertising on mobiles being a welcome information source rather than an annoyance.


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