The real mobile revolution: Africa’s smartphone future

Editor’s note: Nmachi Jidenma writes on technology and innovation in Africa and is Founder of Celebrating Progress Africa. Follow her on Twitter: @nmachijidenma

(CNN) — As the world’s fastest growing market for mobile phones, Africa is ripe for the upcoming disruption that will be ushered in by ubiquitous Internet access through smartphones.

The previous wave of mobile phone adoption on the continent from 2000 to 2010 accelerated at an impressive 30% compound annual growth rate powered by affordable dumb and feature phones sold at mass market price points.

Today, the narrative is changing.

Read more: 10 African tech startups you need to know

The continent’s smartphone market is expected to double in the next four years and device manufacturers who dominated the narrative over the past decade such as Nokia are making big bets on the continent’s smartphone future. Microsoft/Nokia through the Lumia Windows phone line are betting that the continent’s rising economic fundamentals coupled with a rising hunger for connected devices will spur significant demand.

Huawei has since 2011 bet that its sub $100 Android devices will herald a new era of smartphone penetration in some of Africa’s largest mobile phone markets like Nigeria and Kenya.

The coming African smartphone wave poses an interesting dilemma for app developers on the continent
Nmachi Jidenma

Samsung has adopted a similar strategy, targeting student populations and engaging celebrities to trigger mass appeal and its tactics appear to be gaining traction.

According to International Data Corp, 52% of all smartphones sold on the continent in the second quarter of 2013 were Samsung phones and the company has quickly ascended in a short period of time to become Africa’s smartphone leader. Chinese manufacturer Tecno has also increasingly been making its intentions clear: “Our desire is to flood the African mobile phone markets with Tecno smartphones,” its director of marketing, Boukali Mounir said in an interview recently. Read more

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