Internet access is growing in Africa following years of the continent being shut out. More and more middle-class Africans, especially in northern states are enjoying the ability to connect and engage with the rest of the world.
The advantages here are numerous. Being able to connect with businesses and brands internationally creates working opportunities and allows trade relationships to be established and nurtured. The benefits are mutual, too, with companies overseas gaining access to new audiences and resources.
It is also unlocking a new world of entertainment for Africans and helping them connect with the latest events and releases. No longer are the continent’s citizens playing catch-up. In this article, we will explore the platforms promoting this trend.
The launch of the iPhone in 2007 proved to be a game-changer for the internet and how it is accessed. The device allowed users the ability to access a service that closely resembled the ‘full’ internet and forced the world’s biggest brands to change how they present their services online.
The cost of the iPhone and similar high-end devices originally made them unattainable for the majority of Africans. But fast-forward 14 years and there is a range of smartphones available for a far lower outlay. This has proved to be an encouraging development for lower-income citizens and enabled many to use the internet for the first time.
Accessing the mobile internet provides access to services like email and online banking, which naturally are crucial tools for doing business internationally. With connection speeds improving all the time, and hacks for getting the best out of your device, more and more Africans are going online in this way.
Social media has proven to be a hugely powerful platform for engagement. Channels like Facebook and Twitter bring together many of the world’s biggest brands and services in one easy-to-access place.
The channels also allow Africans to easily stay in touch with one another, including sharing photographs, videos, updates and exchanging messages. ‘Lite’ versions of the apps don’t require fast connections or powerful devices to use.
Sports fans are also able to stay up to date with the latest news and content from their favourite teams, as well as purchase merchandise and access to watch matches. Social media provides a natural point of engagement beyond each club’s individual website
Strides forward in browser technology have had a major impact for many operators in the digital marketplace. For example, in the gambling sector, brands are able to deliver a much more comprehensive service right in the browser window, with no app or plug-in downloads required.
Sticking with the sports theme, bettors looking for odds on different sports can enjoy live odds that change before their eyes, up-to-the-minute updates on sporting events unfolding and special offers that update at various intervals during matches. Africa also happens to be a major expansion market for betting brands.
The technology is also a big benefit for Africans accessing online. Being able to deliver content within the browser is important for users using lower-end devices that don’t necessarily have the storage or processing power to run multiple apps or plug-ins.
As we can see, the introduction of several new innovations, particularly during the last 15 years, has helped make it easier than ever for Africans to stay connected. It’s clear, too, that the continent is seen as a key target for brands and developers to hit in the years to come.