Smartphone price cuts to drive internet in Africa

INTERNET

|
Image: Aidan Baigrie. By BiztechAfrica
Aidan Baigrie

The rapid drop in smartphone pricing will play a major role in bringing internet connectivity to Africans over the next five to 10 years, uplifting economies throughout the continent in the process. This is according to Aidan Baigrie, Head of Business Development at SEACOM.

He says that with some smartphones already dropping below the USD100 threshold and sub USD50 devices inbound, smartphones are rapidly falling to price levels that make them accessible to a larger market in Africa.

"There is mobile phone penetration of around 70% across Africa, but smartphone penetration is only 10% to 15%," says Baigrie. "The question is how do we lift smartphone penetration closer to the 70% level, so that as many Africans can enjoy mobile broadband services as the current numbers that have access to basic GSM services.”

Baigrie says the key lies in the falling prices of smartphones and other smart devices. Huawei's USD80 IDEOS Android smartphone has been a hit in the Kenyan market and similar examples can be found in other parts of the continent, showing that the market for data services is there once consumers can afford smart devices. He also predicts that there will be an increase in smart devices such as smart readers, tablets and hybrids being launched into the market in 2013.

China's firm Spreadtrum Communications recently released two new low-cost, 600MHz Android smartphone platforms aimed at ultra-cheap smartphones in the USD40 range. "These devices are having a massive effect on the African market, bringing Internet services in reach for more people than ever before," says Baigrie.

In more mature markets such as South Africa, operators are already reporting that they are shipping more smartphones than cellphones or feature phones, a trend that will soon become apparent in the rest of the continent. In the process, many Africans are gaining access to services such as social networking, the Web, and email for the first time, says Baigrie. Africa will leapfrog the PC era to the mobile, post-PC world, he adds.

"Like users in the rest of the world, Africans want Internet access via smartphones for entertainment, shopping, social networking and commercial applications," he adds. "This is leading to an explosion in demand for mobile data on African telecommunications networks. And the fact that mobile data prices have fallen dramatically in the past few years has also helped to spur demand."

Baigrie notes that this sort of mobile connectivity will be important in helping African countries to grow their economies by promoting access to information, communication, education and commerce. It will also challenge the telecommunications industry to rapidly grow its infrastructure and capacity to keep up with demand, he says.

SEACOM says it is constantly growing its longhaul fibre capability, but African operators will also need to keep investing in national backbones and last-mile connectivity to cater for the extra strain put on their networks by the millions of smart devices that will enter the market in the next few years. The internet is on Africa’s doorstep, the key to unlocking this opportunity is getting it from the doorstep and into our home.



Share the News

Get Daily Newsletter

comments powered by Disqus

MORE INTERNET NEWS

Jumia: mobile traffic up by 13%

A study conducted by Kenya’s leading online mall, Jumia, reveals that mobile traffic to the site increased by 13 percent over the past year. Read More

Vodacom connects customers to IXPN

Vodacom Business Nigeria has connected its global network to the Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN).  Read More

Internet Solutions targets Ugandan market

Internet Solutions has launched innovative ICT products for Uganda in a bid to tap into the lucrative but less exploited Ugandan market. Read More

Delving into the sub-Saharan digital economy

The Oxford Internet Institute (OII) is carrying out a research project in an effort to better understand the digital economy and the societal implications of network technologies in sub-Saharan Africa.  Read More

Liquid Telecom brings 100MBPS broadband to Victoria Falls

Liquid Telecom today announced the latest expansion of its Fibre To The Home (FTTH) network in Zimbabwe. Read More

Jumia supports Garissa victim fund

To help with the funeral expenses and support the families of the victims of the Garissa university attack, Jumia will donate 100% of proceeds made through its Jumia is Kenya shop to the Kenya Red Cross. Read More

e-commerce space untapped, says phonekings head

E-commerce is the future, says the head of a new online electronics mall launched in Nigeria. Tayo Olusanya spoke to Kokumo Goodie in Lagos. Read More

Nigeria’s mobile internet users pass 80m

Figures from Nigeria’s telecoms regulator show a strong increase in the number of mobile internet users on the Global System for Mobile communications in January. Read More

Council approves four fibre optic landing points

Nigeria’s National Broadband Council has approved the building of optic fibre cable landing points in four coastal states to be funded by the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF). Read More

Gabon hit by internet disruptions

Internet connections are back in Gabon after three days of black out - a mystery telecommunication authorities and operators seem unable to explain. Read More

PRESS OFFICES

Sage ERP AfricaSAP AfricaSage Pastel AccountingTrust PayVMWareSamsung ElectronicsMitsumi DistributionPhoenix DistributionMTN BusinessSchneider ElectricMultichoiceMicrosoft 4Afrika

FEATURED STORY

e-commerce space untapped, says phonekings heade-commerce space untapped, says phonekings head

E-commerce is the future, says the head of a new online electronics mall launched in Nigeria. Tayo Olusanya spoke to Kokumo Goodie in Lagos.

IN DEPTH

Villagers get solar training at Barefoot College Villagers get solar training at Barefoot College

The Botswana Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) has seconded seven semi-illiterate mostly Ngwatle villagers for a six month solar electrification training course at the famed Barefoot College in India. 

COMPANY NEWS

ICT skills in Kenya to grow as ICT Authority and Microsoft sign MOU

Kenya’s ICT Authority and Microsoft have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which will, among other things, see Microsoft offer support in providing a platform that will ...