Android Makes Strong Headway in “Feature Phone” Africa

android_logoOpportunities Arise for Commerce, Ad Revenue and Unique Data Plans

Africa is poised to become a hotbed for mobile growth and commerce in the coming years, according to Opera Mediaworks’ State of Mobile Advertising report released today. Mobile is the driving force behind the continent’s accelerating internet adoption.

Based on data from two of Opera’s core businesses, its global mobile-ad platform (Opera Mediaworks) and its mobile-phone browser business (Opera Software), the report examines the mobile internet and mobile-advertising landscape across Africa. It highlights the tremendous opportunity that comes with a population’s move to the mobile web and smartphones.

Beyond the monetization potential of a world of new or localized apps and websites, there are distinct possibilities to harness the power of social networking and to implement innovative internet usage plans, as well as new ways to push forward digital healthcare initiatives in Africa.

Here are some key trends uncovered as part of the research:
Android devices push smartphone growth and mobile internet adoption
Africans remain more likely to use a non-smartphone compared to users globally, but the report indicates that smartphones, specifically Android devices, are a growing part of the mobile landscape. Android users, who now comprise almost 30% of the total mobile population, use the mobile web twice as much as feature-phone users. As Android phones get into the hands of more of the African population, mobile internet use is bound to increase. The strongest sub-markets for both page views and data consumption are Southern (South Africa and Namibia), Middle (Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo) and Northern Africa (Sudan and Egypt), with the latter region approaching global averages in both categories.

Social networking is the ‘it’ mobile activity
Taking a closer look at mobile users in Nigeria and South Africa, the data shows that social networking is the most popular activity. South African users consume many more pages of social-media content per user, however, which means there is significantly more inventory on social-networking sites and apps for advertisers to consider.

App use remains small compared to Western markets, but presents opportunity
The report indicates that only about 5% of advertising traffic in Africa comes from mobile apps, but suggests that this market will grow substantially as more users adopt smart devices. Additionally, the fact that app traffic tends to monetize better than web traffic means big opportunities in African markets.

Within the Opera Mobile Store, the world’s third-largest app store, gaming apps are by far the most downloaded in both Nigeria and South Africa. In terms of app usage, South Africans use more apps under the Utilities category, while Nigerians still prefer spending time with gaming apps.

Innovative, mobile-first solutions to bring people online
Short-term web passes for internet access are an effective way of increasing mobile internet adoption, according to the report. For example, Opera Web Pass, which can be sponsored by brands or mobile operators and grants short-term access to the internet, allows users who do not want to make a full commitment to hop on the internet for limited amounts of time. Web passes not only help operators bring new internet users online, but also present a way for sites to attract users, or for brands to offer valuable incentives to engage customers.

Opportunity for healthcare-related sites and apps
Globally, interest in healthcare sites and apps appears to be tied to the availability of doctors. Countries with the most doctors per capita account for 90% of impressions to health sites, while countries with the fewest doctors per capita consume less than 1% of health-focused-site impressions. These findings reflect the global healthcare gap and reveal a large, untapped audience within the African continent for healthcare-related sites and apps. These sites will be especially critical during humanitarian crises, such as the recent Ebola outbreak.
The full report, Africa: The State of Mobile Advertising, is available here.