Mobile connectivity takes off in Africa.
Nokia, the global mobile phone maker and solutions provider, sees mobile internet and applications as next growth frontier for Sub-Saharan Africa that will help transform the continent’s socio-economic growth.
New figures indicate that Africa is recovering strongly from the global recession with economic growth, a factor that may help drive penetration of mobile connectivity to 69 percent by 2014, compared to 49 percent in 2009, Ms. Woon Peng, Nokia Head of Services in Middle East and Africa, told
platform and given the host of new opportunities it brings mobile connectivity take-off is a convenient vehicle that will deliver us to the next economic growth level. The next phase of mobile revolution is all about locally relevant content and services delivered through handheld devices in areas such as banking, insurance, health and governance. We believe local entrepreneurs have the necessary contextual sensitivity and understanding to create appealing and economically sustainable services.”
She noted that new disruptive technologies present real opportunities for low and middle income consumers in a continent where internet usage is estimated to be lower than 5 percent. She, however, pointed out that availability of affordable mobile phones and cheaper mobile broadband is helping steer significant economic growth in the region.
Ms Peng pointed out that low formal employment in Africa has encouraged wide spread entrepreneurial activity and innovation. She added that micro-entrepreneurship in Africa is a massive phenomenon, covering about 90 percent of the employment base and 65 percent of the continental Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Nokia is already supporting establishment of local infrastructure relevant to entrepreneurs and mobile phone user through initiatives like mLab in Kenya and local universities, incubators and developer communities. These efforts, said Ms Peng, are helping improving mobile business skills as well as providing technical assistance to future entrepreneurs.
“In a region where micro-entrepreneurship is a massive phenomenon, covering 90 percent of the employment base and 65 percent of the continental GDP, increased use of the mobile phone and services is fast becoming critical for development of African economies.Research indicates that in a typical sub-Saharan African country, a 10 percent increase in mobile penetration results to a corresponding 0.8 percent GDP growth.,” said Ms Peng.
According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) estimates by end of 2010 Africa’s mobile penetration grew by 41 percent, the highest in the world- and economic growth expanded at an average 27 percent in the last five years.
She revealed that Nokia’s next big growth opportunity is to go beyond bringing affordable voice and SMS to delivering affordable web and applications to the next billion consumers adding that “socio-economic empowerment starts from the grassroots of the society.”
“Rural populations live their lives largely outside of the reach of high quality services. Through solutions like Nokia Data Gathering, we are already supporting field workers to collect, send and receive information quickly and securely via a mobile phone helping circumvent infrastructural challenges and speed up data collections needs in sectors such as health, agriculture, environmental conservation, population census and emergency services,” concluded Ms. Peng.