Africa’s mobile economy is unique, with telecom network infrastructure and mobile devices being the main engines for digital growth. In its 2016 Mobile Economy report, the GSMA recognises the key role mobile is playing in socio-economic development across the continent — including the increased reach and accessibility of educational, utility and other public sector services. Smartphone penetration is unstoppable, with stats showing growth of 45 million in 2015 to reach 230 million devices by 2020.
With consumers spending more time on their mobile, the opportunity for mobile to take a central place in their lives is increasing. One of the most lucrative opportunities being mobile content services, given that some African mobile users already watch more video on their mobile than on their televisions. What makes it such a significant opportunity is that market share and leadership in the content value chain are still up for grabs.
In the European market, many mobile operators have been relegated to acting as pipelines for service delivery. To deliver credible content services they must partner with well-established content providers and brands. With Africa’s content value chain still in flux, expect a content leadership battle between mobile operators and OTT players, who will be vying for their own branded mobile content services to come out on top. The question is what will it take to win in the future?
Rich content: The diversity of content on offer significantly affects the ‘stickiness’ of services. African consumers have shown an appetite for home-grown content across a number of areas. The ability to offer content specific to local appetites, alongside international content, is an advantage to appealing to local consumers and securing service popularity. Further, as a mobile-first market, there is an insatiable appetite for new genres of digital services in categories such as health, education and governance – many of which can have transformational socio-economic impact.
Engaging and slick user experience: With increasing global exposure, smartphone users today expect highly engaging experiences from the digital services they consume. Network and device capabilities need to be augmented with best-in-class user experience design across the entire customer lifecycle – from discovery and trial through to service consumption and advocacy.
Expanding on current monetisation models: As data becomes a cheaper commodity and competition increases, Africa’s mobile operators need to explore and create flexible models of monetisation to grow their revenue streams. Integrating sponsored content and advertising into their services is an essential step in developing a strong two-sided business model. On one side, consumers have access to content, and on the other, publishers and other businesses have the ability to build and engage with an audience base. Alongside a stronger monetisation model, mobile operators must offer flexible payment methods, including mobile money and credit card payments, to ensure all potential customers have access to services.
Partnerships to secure the future: With market share and position in the value chain still shifting, it is important that Africa’s mobile operators continue to utilise technology partners that will adapt to changing market and business conditions. These are partners who can assure continuous innovation and quality of experience as smartphones become an increasingly dominant device type throughout the African continent. Why is the choice of partner so important? With the rise of the smartphone comes an increased customer expectation. Content must be optimised for a wide range of devices and the latest smartphone capabilities used to deliver a compelling and personalised service experience.
For the last 15 years, IMImobile has been helping Africa’s mobile operators to secure a key role in the value chain for mobile content services. The IMIdigital platform powers many of Africa’s most popular content services which are delivered across 34 countries. Constant innovation and feature development have led to clients building loyal customer bases, with the platform now processing more than 14 billion content transactions every year. Just recently in 2015, our clients in the region surpassed 500 million downloads, and that is just the beginning of unlocking the potential of mobile content across Africa.