In Africa, the smartphone has been a part of the basic service for a long time. It is as essential as electricity, water, and sewers. The number of users continues to grow dramatically. The British market research institute Ovum has found that the number of smartphone users has doubled in just three years. But this trend is far from its end because it is estimated that more than 900 million people are going to use a smartphone by 2021. This boom is also initiated by the Asian wireless service providers.
China Invested Very Early
The researchers recognized the potential very early and began building the networks in Africa 15 years ago. After all, there is still hardly any traditional telephone infrastructure in Africa. Even if the telephones look like the ones we are used to from the USA or Europe, they are far less compelling. Therefore, the devices are cheap. The dominant manufacturers in Africa come from China.
Fast and Cheap Access to The Internet
Many companies sell not only classical smartphones in Africa. In fact, for a long time, the proportion was even below 50 percent. That is because numerous consumers buy a cheap model as an entry-level model. Their power consumption is lower than smartphones. That gives people quick and affordable access to the Internet. That opens numerous opportunities for them and gives them access to information and education. Unfortunately, there is a problem to recharge the devices. Therefore, it is essential that the battery lasts longer.
The development of mobile payments shows how important the supply of phones is. Another very important service of smartphones in Africa is the possibility to transfer money via SMS. This system is simple, and people use it for many occasions. The traditional infrastructure for money transferring is also missing in Africa. The service providers such as M-Kopa solve the electricity problem. They provide small home solar energy systems that also can be used to charge the phones. That is a viable solution for many users there. People can also buy charging cables, buffer batteries, and other accessories to improve the system.
More than three-quarters of the people on the continent are under 35 years of age. Many of them use their smartphones to send money to their relatives or to make transfers. That works from anywhere via SMS. People can even credit for the phone and redeemed it in this way. Besides, they can pay electricity bills by phone. Applications to authorities and enrollment at a university also work via the smartphone.
Chinese manufacturers quickly recognized the unique needs and aligned their devices accordingly. Transsion is the market leader. It has already sold 130 million devices. They cost around 75 euros and have everything you need in Africa. These include pre-installed access to social media and a battery that lasts for several days in standby mode. The phones are robust and can withstand numerous loads. The user menus are in various African languages, two slots for SIM cards are standard. With these possibilities, the Chinese industry was able to conquer the market.