Africa’s mobile phone adoption over the last 15 years have been impressive. With around 67 percent, or 1.13 billion population of Africa using mobile phones, it is often referred to as ‘The Mobile Continent’.
According to Informa , the continent has become the second most connected region in the world in terms of mobile subscription. For a continent with more than 50.3 million Facebook users, it goes without saying that a vast majority of the population primarily consume content on mobile phones.
In countries like Nigeria and Kenya, the high rate of mobile phone adoption is bringing significant changes in the lives of the tech savvy population of the continent. What differentiates Africa is, unlike other continent, Africa is a ‘mobile-only’ continent. In Africa, unlike other countries of the world, internet is not another option, but the only option. As the continent still fights for electricity, millions of people experience the internet for the first time on a cellphone screen.
The explosion of mobile devices has given way to a world of possibilities for TV and media consumption in Africa. Users are no more restricted by time or place when it comes to entertainment, but watch their favorite videos or television any time of the day as per their convenience.
A 2015 research conducted by Ericsson reveals that 63 percent of students and 59 percent of young white-collar professionals in Kenya prefer to watch content of their choice on a personal device. Shorter video content is very popular, with about 77 percent users preferring to watch content on the smartphones. The study also reveals that 53 percent of young white-collar professionals are interested in mobile video on-demand.
“Mobile video is particularly prominent in Middle East/African regions, where 72 percent of online consumers report watching video on mobile phones at least once a month, and almost 37 percent say they do so at least once a day,” reports global market research company Nielsen.
The growth of online content industry is further underlined by the production of local content for online consumption. Nollywood, financed at Lagos and filmed in make-shift sets, has become second largest film industry in the world by volume. The industry, with its annual turnover of $500 million supplies content in the form of CDs and DVDs throughout Africa and African communities worldwide.
For example, iROKO Partners, owned by British-Nigerian serial entrepreneur Jason Njoku has six million viewers in 178 countries. Dubbed Africa’s Netflix, iROKO streams Nigerian content in the form of movies and music through its platform.
Taking clue from iROKO’s business model, which is built around ease of access, other local players are also venturing to provide content online. Wabona provides online pay-per-view video streaming service while another South African start-up, Bozza provides a mobile platform for local filmmakers, artists, and entrepreneurs to distribute their content.
According to Alan Knott-Craig, former CEO of free instant messaging application Mxit, African consumers are hungry for online content and are ready to pay for the same. To address the need, Mxit has created a movie portal that allows its users to watch feature-length pieces in five to six parts.
As Africa’s online content consumption grows, broadcasters are focused on African origin content, which amounts to almost 70 percent of the content consumption in the continent. International investors are also becoming increasingly aware of the potential of African content businesses. It is undeniable that online content is a major industry in Africa, and if the bandwidth constraints and data cost are addressed, the continent will be the largest consumer of online media.