[Africa Tech Week] Smartphone shipments in Africa recording significant growth
The smartphone market in African continues to record significant growth. While 2018 was a tough year for worldwide smartphone shipments, Africa experienced year-on-year growth for first time since 2015. Latest figures by the International Data Corporation (IDC) released this week show that African smartphone market grew 2.3% in 2018 to total 88.2 million units, spurred by the strong performance of the continent’s three biggest markets – Nigeria, South Africa, and Egypt.
In Egypt, the figures show that mobile phone market saw shipments totalling 14.4 million units in 2018 in the country. The figures were released just a day after Jumia Kenya released its 2019 White Paper report which revealed that affordable entry-level devices key driver of smartphone adoption, Jumia Report. The Jumia White Paper was released ahead of the e-commerce leader’s Mobile Week scheduled to run from the 22nd to 31st of March.
African startups were also in the news this week. Nigeria’s OneFi secured a $5M debt facility for its consumer-facing platform, Paylater. The facility comes from New York and Nairobi-based Lendable, a technology-enabled funding provider to African consumer and SME lenders. Two African startups, Kenya’s MumsVillage and Sierra Leone’s Mosabi also made it to the second cohort of Gray Matters Capital’s Calibrator program – GMC Calibrator. Kenya’s CapAGRI Africa was selected among the most-promising seed stage blockchain startups from around the world to take part in æternity Venture’s ‘Starfleet’ Accelerator Programme. Local Fintech group Crossfin Technology Holdings announced that it has taken a significant minority interest into Retail capital to support local SMEs. Africa-focused Ampion and Berlin-based Plutos Ventures Holding announced the founding of Ampion Ventures to support African startups with seed capital and strategic expertise support. The Financial Inclusion Initiative at Omidyar Network announced the launch Flourish, a new venture firm focused on backing fintech entrepreneurs in emerging markets.
Television Viewers in the Republic of Benin are now receiving 15 new Free-to-Air (FTA) channels from satellite, thanks to a new agreement the Government of the Republic of Benin has signed with SES this week. In Mauritius, ECI, was awarded a contract by CEB FiberNet to expand its existing fiber optic network coverage to provide advanced telecom services and connectivity to the country.
SAP and Google Cloud recently also launched a Global Sustainability Contest for Social Entrepreneurs. The two partners are looking for revenue-generating ideas that use data analytics and machine learning to power circular economy businesses. Still, on Cloud, Microsoft South Africa announced that it is the official cloud partner of the South African Rugby Union (SARU). The announcement came just a few weeks after Microsoft and Telecom Egypt announced their collaboration to extend Microsoft's cloud network to Egypt. Telecom Egypt has also entered into another partnership with Nokia to build the first cloud infrastructure in Egypt exclusively for the Internet of Things (IoT) services.
Liquid Telecom and Microsoft Gold Partner announced the availability of Microsoft Azure across its pan-African network. The announcement was made after Liquid Telecom extended the availability of Microsoft Azure from the Cape to Cairo, its lead in the African cloud revolution. This extension was made in November 2018. Microsoft recently opened its first datacentres in Africa, with the general availability of Azure from the new cloud regions in Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa.
ZINFI Technologies, Inc. announced that Converge Technologies, a reseller of IT and telecommunications solutions in Africa, has begun using its technology to automate its marketing workflow. In South Africa, Vodacom customers will soon have the freedom to connect and link a number of devices to their primary account using the same phone number following the launch of Vodacom OneNumber in partnership with Samsung.
On Matters banking, Global payment technology company Visa announced plans to unveil a mobile app in Tanzania that will allow free of charge and cross border transactions. Standard Chartered Bank unveiled SC Mobile Digital Bank for its retail customers with enhanced features at a cost of KES 83.4 million. FSS, Financial Software and Systems, a global payments technology company announced a strategic investment in Ecentric Payment Systems, a Standard Bank subsidiary and a leading payment processor in South Africa. Vista Group partnered with Temenos, the banking software company, to power its digital transformation journey.
Safaricom and Ant Financial Services – a global fintech services provider – announced a partnership that will allow Kenyans shopping on e-commerce site AliExpress to pay for their purchases using M-PESA. Unissense-Africa also announced that it is seeking to build the largest e-commerce platform for SMEs in the continent
Other highlights of the week include Google launching YouTube Premium and YouTube Music in South Africa, making it the first country to enjoy the services, Vodacom pledging to promote sustainable waste management practices in South Africa and the Africa Digital Media Institute (ADMI) and Microsoft's 4Afrika Initiative setting up an AppFactory at ADMI's central Nairobi campus.