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The rise and rise of mobile in Africa

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There are 960-million mobile subscriptions across Africa – an 80% penetration rate – compared to Internet penetration of just 18%, with 216-million Internet users.
In Nigeria, the Internet penetration is much higher at 53%, while mobile subscriptions are similar to Africa’s at 81% penetration (150-million mobile subscriptions).
These are some of the findings from Jumia Nigeria’s 2017 edition of the African Mobile Trends Paper, examining how the market has democratised mobile Internet use, the consumer behaviours driving increased smartphone adoption and the role of mobile brands, mobile operators and m-commerce in creating a synergy of an enhanced customer experience.
This year’s Mobile Africa Study was carried out in 15 African countries which generate more than 80% of Africa’s GDP – Algeria, Nigeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Mozambique, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and Senegal.
The average price for a smartphone on Jumia is $117, down from $216 in 2014. Correlating with this is a drop in the share of sales of basic feature phones from 6% in 2015 to 4% in 2016, even as the share of smartphones on the website increased.
In 2016 Chinese mobile brands held dominance and played a major role in introducing smartphones with lower price points. Infinix, Innjoo, Tecno, Samsung and Yezz are the top 5 smartphone brands in terms of sales on Jumia. Infinix continues to be Africa’s top smartphone brand across Jumia’s 15 markets. One of their entry level smartphones, the Infinix Hot4Lite was one of the best-selling phones across several African markets including Nigeria.
The increased access and affordability of low specification smartphones has also revealed a need for the mobile ecosystem to respond with data-efficient browsers and mobile apps that are optimized for performance and an easy user experience.
Looking at the mobile Internet browsers customers use to access Jumia, 50% of customers in Africa come on to Jumia’s mobile site with Google Chrome. In Nigeria that number is just 28%. Instead, the Opera mini browser is much more popular, with 41% of the mobile traffic to Jumia Nigeria coming from Opera mini.
One reason for this could be that countries with higher levels of income have been found to have more users accessing the internet with heavier browsers like Chrome – which typically have higher system requirements. Opera mini is a lighter browser in terms of data usage and is popular among new mobile internet users who have lower incomes and can’t afford costly internet data packs.
A recent report from Opera determined the savings on mobile data costs for Opera mini users in Nigeria has amounted to about $198-million (N39,5-billion) over a 10-month period, due to its data compression technology. This is a clear example of the ripple effect that customer enjoy when a slight change is introduced by one of the digital ecosystem players.
The trend since 2013 was for people to use their mobile phones to browse and look up products and then purchase them on their desktop. Now customers are checking out and paying for orders from the mobile app or the mobile friendly version of the website. This is a trend that is expected to grow in the future based on the current figures.
Mobile customers (both those who use the Jumia app and those who browse from mobile browsers) account for 63% of all orders on Jumia Nigeria. Across the 15 markets where the study was carried out, that figure is at 47%. Currently, one out of two mobile visitors in Nigeria are coming from the Jumia mobile app.