When compared to the almost 60% worldwide average, Africa has the lowest internet penetration rate of any continent at 39%. To further widen the divide, in some African nations, the rate of smartphone adoption in urban regions is about 200 percent higher than in rural ones.
The high price of internet access is one of the major influencing factors in Africa’s digital divide. The Alliance for Affordable Internet reports that 1 gigabyte of data costs Africans 5.8% of their monthly income, which is far more than the 3.6% and 1.5% it costs in Latin America and Asia, respectively. 1 gigabyte might cost as much as 15% of income in certain countries like Chad, the DRC, and CAR.
There has been a recent uptick in discussions on how to improve this. Africa’s expanding economy relies in large part on the advancement of LTE and 5G digital infrastructure, which has proven to be a key driver of digitization in all critical aspects of life, including education, transportation, healthcare, and energy.
But how do people in Africa use the web? Online communities, stores, and games are the main topics we’ll be looking into.
Africa and Social Media
Nigerians, Ghanaians, and Kenyans spend an average of 3.5 hours per day on social media, much above the global average of 2.5 hours per day. About 6 million people in Nigeria signed up to use a social media platform in 2020.
According to data compiled for the South Africa Social Media Landscape Report 2021, the country’s internet user base has grown by 4.5% in the last 12 months. There has been a 3 million rise in South Africans utilizing Facebook and other social networking sites in comparison to this time last year (a 14 percent increase). Additionally, 24.63 million users browse social media via their mobile devices. About 99% of social media users in South Africa do so through their mobile phones.
Africa and Online Shopping
As a direct consequence of the COVID outbreak, many individuals in Africa have been encouraged to try out novel approaches of obtaining and processing news and making purchases. It is likely that these alterations in consumption will endure even after the pandemic has ended since they constitute a hastening of behaviors that had already begun to develop before the outbreak.
For instance, a McKinsey survey of Nigerian consumers during the pandemic revealed that 46% of respondents had tried out a new digital mode of buying since the epidemic; as a consequence, the percentage of Nigerians who purchase online rose from 30% to 66%.
There are essentially three ways that people learn about these new possibilities for making purchases. The survey found that 33% of online shoppers claimed that internet ads had the biggest role in their buying decisions. Twenty-three percent of African online buyers relied on the advice of friends and family, while eighteen percent were moved to buy by the recommendations of public figures or celebrities active on social media.
Now, more than ever, it’s crucial to have a strong online presence in Africa, to communicate with key opinion leaders, and keep the audience interested via social media and other digital channels. These platforms are accessible to both large and small businesses, allowing for the rapid growth of innovative new items in the digital marketplace.
Africa and Online Gambling
Online gambling is currently one of the fastest-growing industries, and Africa is one of the fastest-growing regions for this industry. South Africa’s gaming industry generated over R34 million in 2021, but the betting industry is expanding throughout the continent. Pari-foot, the local slang word for football betting, is the most common form of gambling in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
It’s clear to see the opportunities opening up for iGaming businesses, given that the number of consumers covered by 3G and 4G networks has doubled over the previous five years and the cost of data and smartphones has halved over the same time. While sports betting sites have dominated the African online gambling market because their product requires less bandwidth to run, the advent of affordable broadband Internet has made it possible to provide more realistic casino games to locals.
This transition is the result of the widespread availability of technology like smartphones, high-speed internet, and mobile money platforms, which allow users to make purchases and send money to one another through their phones even if they don’t have a bank account.
Africa is expected to reach universal internet connectivity by 2030. The continent’s population is showing enthusiasm and openness towards adopting cyber connectivity in their day-to-day, but exactly how that goal will be met, or even if it is realistic, is still under a big question mark.