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

Mobile internet “greatly improved” lives of 63% of Africans

Sixty-three per cent of mobile internet users in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa have said their lives have been “greatly improved” by being able to access internet via their mobiles, compared to 41 per cent in the United Kingdom (UK). Read More

SAPIS launches virtual event platform to empower real estate professionals

SAPIS, the Sub-Saharan Africa Property Investment Summit, has launched a platform for virtual events to enable Africa’s real estate sector to communicate and participate with ease.  Read More

Fibre optic: Congo-Brazzaville releases evaluation report

The Republic of Congo has released an evaluation report on its fibre optic networks, showing that the country has already completed 53 of the 66 projects to be implemented as part of the country's Central African Backbone. Read More

Agents jostle to join Glo Xchange

The number of mobile money agents around the country has continued to swell as the Glo Xchange train moved to in Imo, Benue, Niger, Plateau and Kogi over the weekend. Read More

Samsung Electronics sets 5G speed record

Samsung has announced that it has achieved an industry best 7.5Gbps speed record and the first-ever, uninterrupted 1.2 Gbps 5G connection while travelling 100km/h. Read More

Malawi’s online job search engine acquires SSL Certificate

Malawi’s first ever online job search engine, has joined the elite in the business by acquiring an Extended Validated SSL Certificate. Read More

New life in Gabon as country hits broadband highway

The Central African nation of Gabon is about to start speeding into the highway of broadband in a bid to deliver its people from slow, expensive and inconsistent internet. Read More

Alcatel-Lucent, MTN Nigeria to deploy ultra-broadband 100G fibre-optic data network

Alcatel-Lucent is opening up Africa’s most populous nation to the benefits of ultra-broadband connectivity by launching a superfast, 100 gigabit-per-second fibre-optic network with MTN Nigeria.  Read More

MainOne partners with Lagos Garage

MainOne has signed a deal with Lagos Garage, ensuring that the 440.ng startups will have all the high-speed internet they need to build and ship their products.  Read More

Accenture, Alcatel-Lucent collaborate on ultra-broadband opportunities

Accenture and Alcatel-Lucent have formed a strategic alliance to help communications service providers and large enterprises implement integrated ultra-broadband solutions to address the challenges of rising costs and increased data consumption. Read More

PRESS OFFICES

Sage ERP AfricaSAP AfricaSage Pastel AccountingTrust PayVMWareSamsung ElectronicsMitsumi DistributionPhoenix DistributionSage HR AfricaMTN BusinessSchneider ElectricMultichoice

FEATURED STORY

Growing African focus on data securityGrowing African focus on data security

Beachhead Solutions’ new SA and Mauritius country manager explains the challenges and solutions around securing customer data and compliance with new personal information legislation.

IN DEPTH

Africa lags on digital migration Africa lags on digital migration

Only three African countries have so far completed the digital migration process, and serious issues are hampering the migration in other nations.