When any nation gets mobile phone. that nation has got it – no going back. Africa has got it and it will not be a left over technology. Mobile phone is here to stay in the continent. We are participating – inventing and innovating, for the first time, in an emerging ecosystem. There are many Africans that have mobile phones and the rate of penetration is astonishing and fascinating.
The continent is young with about 55-60% of the population under 24 years (that shows Africans die younger). This youth is city liking tech-savvy change makers that can redefine the continent, if they are provided with the leadership and resources. While it took ages for technologies to diffuse from the West to Africa, now, it will take months. Invent a technology in London or Boston, expect to see that or the clone in Africa, at least, in the context of social media.
Internet ideas are viral because the barriers to copying or scaling is very low. Unlike steam engine or aerospace which till today, Africa has not solution, social media is simply simple. That has been the nexus while many African governments are pushing resources to enable and grow the social media sector. It is one simple way to engage and employ youth, gainfully.
The continent will play in the social media and mobility at the innovation angle. We cannot be simply users of technology. We will also create. And that means, contribute to the growth of the industry. As broadband access improves, more opportunities will open. With the near completion of the massive WACS cable that will put most of sub-Sahara Africa to the high-speed hub, a new dawn will be born.
We estimate new investment in ICT in coming years to be excess of $200 billion with South Africa and Nigeria as major drivers. With the penetration and growth rate of excess of 55% in five years, Africa has demonstrated that it is ready and will participate in this new phase of economic transformation. As this Internet access improves, governance, rule of law, democracy and freedom will follow.
In the next four years, Tekedia predicts that Africa will add extra 300 million mobile subscribers. That will possibly give the continent a diffusion rate of excess of 70%. Nokia will continue to dominate the handset market, but other players like cheap Android phone could be a joker. More Africans will begin to consume data.
Telecommunication companies will have to improve services because airtime will be commodity. They must add value on top of their games. People will demand more. Businesses will move to the mobile environment and more Africans will get services on the web – news, stocks, etc.
We are very confident that the future of mobility is well and healthy in Africa. While government helped with the policy, the drivers are not coming from governments. The societal energy and passion of people have provided opportunities for investors. And anyone that waits will be left out – now is the time to connect into Africa, because the opportunity is huge.