The explosion of mobile phones in Africa in two graphs

Billionaire investor Kerr Neilson is betting on Africa in part because of its mobile revolution.

“To have reliable information about anticipated weather conditions and prices of agricultural products, to be able to transmit funds to relatives in remote and distant villages, to be able to access healthcare advice on one’s mobile phone, are huge breakthroughs,” he said.

Here are two charts from the Financial Review that will certainly please Neilson:

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Sub-Saharan Africa to have 160 M mobile broadband connections by 2016

Sub Saharan African broadband connections are to rise four-fold in three years, a report by the Broadband Commission for Digital Development, in collaboration with Ericsson says.

According to the report, mobile broadband connections are expected to increase almost four times from 2012 to 2016 to over 160 million in Sub-Saharan Africa, adding that mobile broadband has been driving financial inclusion through mobile banking and mobile money across the continent while supporting new ways of delivering healthcare in many countries.

The Broadband Commission for Digital Development is a joint initiative of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The task force which delivered the report was led by Hans Vestberg, President and CEO of Ericsson.

The report, “Transformational solutions for 2015 and Beyond looks at several aspects of broadband and its positive effects on people, environment and society while analyzing national broadband plans for 138 countries.

“As the post-2015 sustainable development agenda process evolved, we felt an urgent need to see action. We see so many opportunities for broadband to transform all aspects of society.  Technology evolves faster than policy, and we wanted to make a concerted effort to do everything we could to raise awareness of the potential,”

said Hans Vestberg. read more

Phones Are the New Banks: Mobile Payments in Africa and Beyond

Though it’s a trend that’s now spreading across the globe, the rise of mobile payments can be directly traced back to Africa. It’s an example of how unique conditions give rise to innovative solutions, and how those innovations catch on. Here’s a brief look at the rise of mobile payment technology and at the role Africa has played in its success.

 The Mobile Payment Bandwagon

Just this month, September 2013, a number of British retailers announced their partnership with smartphone payment application Zapp, expected to launch summer 2014. Long before that, in November 2012, global coffee chain Starbucks launched a mobile payment system using Square Wallet, allowing customers to pay for their coffees with a simple scan of their smartphone. In China, the mobile payment market tripled in size over the last year, with a growing number of retailers jumping aboard the e-payments trend.

Clearly, mobile payments are the new face of commerce – both for consumers and, increasingly, within a B2B setting as well. It may not be long until every type of payment – from mortgages and business loans to utilities bills and income tax – is made through mobiles. read more

App downloads to hit 100 billion this year

Mobile app stores will see annual downloads reach 102 billion this year, up from 64 billion in 2012, says Gartner. The global research firm this week concluded its annual symposium in Cape Town, where some of its latest research results were revealed.

Gartner research director Sandy Shen says total app revenue in 2013 will reach $26 billion, up from $18 billion in 2012. Free apps will account for 91% of total downloads in 2013, she says. Gartner further notes that in-app purchases will account for 48% of app store revenue by 2017, up from 11% in 2012. more