Figures from the GSMA revealed that in 2017 Eastern Africa had the world’s lowest smartphone adoption level at 25%, compared to the global average of more than 50%. The $100-$200 price for a smartphone is preventing 64% of the continent’s population from upgrading their 2G voice and text-capable phones to 3G/4G devices that can access the internet, and “market pressures alone will not bring down prices to a level that makes smartphones affordable for low-income groups in the near future.”
Rather than forcing people to choose between a feature phone without internet access, or a budget smartphone with a limited user experience, a different approach that has been successfully rolled out in India can provide inspiration.
In 2016, operator Reliance Jio launched the JioPhone, a smart feature phone that has all the essential capabilities of a smartphone but without the price tag. JioPhone users can access fast internet via Wi-Fi, 4G, and LTE, with Bluetooth and GPS networks also enabled. Users can make payments using NFC and access local and international apps in the JioStore. The device even comes with video capability.
Besides device affordability, monthly costs for data are the other key consideration for users in India. With this in mind, Reliance Jio introduced a plan specifically for JioPhone customers. Its price is slightly more expensive than a voice+text-only plan, but a lot cheaper than a regular smartphone data plan.
The cheapest plan costs just US$0.75 per month which includes 1 gigabyte of data. For US$2.35, the user gets a whopping 42GB (1.5GB per day). This matches perfectly with research that shows the sweet spot for emerging markets lies around $2.5 per month.
The combination of an affordable device with a rich user experience plus a tailored data plan for smart feature phone users has proved to be an excellent way for people to get their first taste of the mobile internet. With an estimated 50 million JioPhone users connected by the end of this year, the Reliance Jio model is an inspirational case for all participants in the telecommunications industry on how we can bring the other half of the world’s population online. While every country is unique, it’s my hope that similar cases will emerge across Africa in the coming years through innovative partnerships between carriers, manufacturers, content providers, and other players in the mobile ecosystem.
This year did not begin the way most people expected it to, so what does the future of the telecoms sector look like in Africa in 2020? In this Connecting Africa online event, local analysts and industry stakeholders will discuss what African operators’ priorities for the year should be and the most significant market trends expected to dominate in 2020.
Will MNOs focus on sweating their current assets rather than investing in new technologies like 5G?
What impact will COVID-19 have on the continent’s networks?
What are the hot market trends in Africa when it comes to voice, data and mobile financial services?
The majority of 5G in Africa is still in the testing stage. However, as operators prepare their networks for the technology jump, what strategies are they deploying to ensure they gain the full value that 5G can offer Africa? This digital symposium will give you an insight into the opportunities and challenges facing Africa’s 5G rollout, with some country specific case studies unpacked.
How 5G-ready is African enterprise?
Is 5G a priority for in Africa, should it be? Or can operators and businesses focus on growing their 3G and 4G networks for enterprise instead?
What are the most significant enterprise business applications for 5G deployment on the continent, and where can 5G facilitate IoT applications?
Africa was the birthplace of Mobile Money and while it continues to rise in popularity, the industry is quickly evolving and launching more mobile-based financial services every day. In this Connecting Africa online event, local analysts and industry stakeholders will discuss how telcos are disrupting the financial services space and what the rise of Mobile Money 2.0 will look like for Africa.
From cash to mobile: heading towards a cashless society
Expanding MFS offerings beyond mobile money transfers
MNOs vs banks vs fintechs: an evolving competitive landscape
Unconnected and unbanked: fintech to improve financial inclusion
The rise of micro-loans and insurance through mobile platforms
Africa has the fastest growing population in the world and also the youngest, with 60% of Africans under the age of 25. It is clear that the next billion connected are going to be the mobile-only generation. This digital symposium will bring industry experts together to discuss Africa’s digital divide and how to get devices into the hands of young Africans and empower them to join the digital revolution.
Who’s Driving? The role of government & regulator, private tech companies, and public-private partnerships
Device affordability: are we reaching a tipping point?
Status check: Satellite vs Fiber and the enduring infrastructure gap
Exploring the wider societal and economic benefits of a connected, digitally literate continent