The number of smartphones in Africa is expected to grow by over 40 percent this year and to double to pass 350 million units by 2017, according to research from Deloitte. ‘The market is stimulated by strong growth in African economies and catalysed by the arrival of low-cost smartphones that are democratising internet access,’ writes Deloitte francophone Africa executive Karim Koundi. He calculates that the smartphone market will grow by more than 40 percent this year, with 70 million units being sold across the continent.
Until now smartphones have only had a 15 percent penetration in Africa, where lower-spec feature phones have been the norm. Other factors contributing to smartphone growth include improved coverage, lower connection costs and the boom in mobile money. The ACE undersea cable has brought reasonably priced connectivity to the world wide web for 13 West African countries. Another seven countries will eventually be added, including Cameroon and the RDC.
Africa accounts for 52 percent of the world’s m-payment transactions, according to Deloitte. More than half of mobile phone owners use m-payments in Kenya and Tanzania, and more than a quarter in South Africa and Senegal. Deloitte expects 2 million people in Tunisia to join the banking system thanks to mobile money this year.