Mobile Internet Diffusion in Africa – Low Literacy Rate Is a Problem

Africa is doing just fine in the mobility business. More people are buying phones, and mobile internet usage is expanding. But this could have been better if Africa has improved its literacy rate, say ten years ago.  Illiteracy is the #1 factor that will stymie the growth of mobile internet in Africa. People that are not educated cannot just Internet and finding a way to close that hole will require the efforts of many stakeholders.


We are a voice continent – we talk a lot and that is in our DNA. We are not going to start writing. Yet, the value added service companies must not depend on airtime to stay in this business. They must move to the domain of getting more Africans to use Apps and spend money on music, games, web, emails and others. That is the only paradigm that will help them reap great profits and remain profitable.


The profitability could compare to the dawn of the mobile era in Africa if a firm differentiates itself by offering products and services that delight the customers. This will mean bundling internet, voice, TV, music, film and others in packages. And on top of that, build interface for health management, mPayment, other other auxiliary services. They should figure out how to reduce the cost of international money transfer by expanding networks. A new dawn must evolve integrating African banks and foreign ones via phones.
Africa is the next frontier – ignore it for own business peril. It will grow even in the old media, like TV, where ITU predicts about 40% reach. McKinsey expects middle class population to add extra 50% within ten years.


But for mobile internet, some of these numbers may  not make sense, if the people are not educated to use it. Maybe, the telcos can see mass literacy as a way to stay in business and give a helping hand to government and NGOs.


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