Archives for posts with tag: Anthony Bushu

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Nigeria’s current retail consumption is listed at $388 billion per year and could rise to $1.4 trillion per year by 2030 according to a report by Mckinsey’s Global Institute. To achieve that estimate and sustain it Nigeria’s retail industry is going through drastic change. Retail growth is being fuelled by the increase in the size of the Nigerian population, more than 80 million of Nigeria’s 170 million citizens live in or close to urban areas, increasing disposable incomes among certain segments of the population, and the drive by the government to modernize retailing. International retailers have also helped growth through their investments and the expansion of international retail stores throughout the country. A report prepared by international management consultancy AT Kearney in 2014 labeled Nigeria, along with Gabon, as offering the best retail investment opportunities in Africa.Shoprite

The Nigerian government has played a significant role in the growth of modern retail. Like most African countries, Nigeria has a huge informal economy, with large open markets where items are sold, including food and clothes, electronics, and phones to name a few. There are also many small neighborhood stores, ranging from large to small operators, as well as kiosks, roadside food sellers and street hawkers. Because of high unemployment and other factors the informal economy has traditionally played a large role in Nigeria. Nigeria‘s informal retailing channel is believed to be worth billions of naira, much of which is untaxed and unaccounted for in the nation‘s GDP. The government has made a commitment to place its focus on the formal economy and modern retailing and has implemented new policies discouraging open air street retailing.Crowded Oshodi Market in Nigeria

The new phenomenon for retail in Nigeria is large shopping or “mega” malls. The first mega mall in Nigeria was launched in 2005, when South African grocery chain Shoprite and other retailers began trading from the Palms Mall in Lagos. The mega mall concept has been hugely popular in Nigeria as it has become the place to be seen for aspiring Nigerians. These malls have also further increased the trend towards modern retailing.

Although there are now eight shopping malls spread throughout Nigeria, with others still to come, retailers have found the high rent at these locations to be a major detriment. These malls have shown a steady turnover in merchants. Also many of the Nigerians who love to come to the mall and be seen, cannot afford the products that are being sold at the high end international merchant retail stores that occupy the malls. Mall in Nigeria

Another retail channel that is experiencing high growth is internet retailing, or ecommerce. Mobile phones are ubiquitous throughout Nigeria and more Nigerians are shopping via their mobile devices. Nigeria is the largest mobile market in Africa and the 10th largest in the world. 71 million Nigerians access Internet via their mobile phones according to statistics released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and Nigeria was number eight among the top 10 internet user countries in the world. Nigeria’s internet subscriber base rose from 48.2 million in June 2013 to 67.4 million in June 2014. This represents a density of 40 percent, placing the country above the African average of around 16 percent, as estimated by McKinsey & Company.

Ecommerce companies that operate in Nigeria, such as Jumia and Konga, have shown tremendous growth over the last few years. Jumia recently secured $150 million of fresh investment from its shareholders and both companies are currently selling over 100,000 items on their sites. Nigeria’s ecommerce industry is now worth over $1 billion and Nigeria’s Minister of Communications Technology, Dr. Omobola Johnson, has said that Nigeria’s e-commerce market has a potential worth of $10 billion. Even with the ecommerce industry being young and facing logistical issues, this is another potential channel for a retailer to actively engage the Nigerian consumer and see real growth and revenue.

Not all international retailers entering the Nigerian market have been successful. In November 2013, international retailer Woolworths announced it was pulling all of it’s supermarkets and department stores out of Nigeria. Woolworth’s found the environment to be challenging and  failed to lure Nigerian consumers.  Woolworth’s initially entered the market in 2012 but high rental costs, duties, and a complex supply chain process made it difficult to succeed. In order for international retailers to be successful one needs to understand the regulatory environment, the challenges of doing business in Africa, the tastes and habits of the Nigerian consumer, and whether or not your business is a good fit for the market.

Understanding Nigeria is key. The Nigerian consumer market is largely defined by the super-rich and the super-poor. Nigeria is among the most unequal countries in the world in terms of income distribution. Although income inequality limits the overall consumer market by concentrating purchasing power with the rich, there is a booming luxury market in Nigeria. Wealthier Nigerians are attracted to well-known brands which are perceived as being of high status. Luxury car Nigeria

There is also a growing middle class, albeit nascent, with rising spending power. By 2030 Nigeria will be home to almost 12 million middle-class households. Going by the National Bureau of Statistics’ average of 5.7 people per household, this would account for over 68 million people. The Mckinsey Global Institute is forecasting 35 million households to be earning more than $7500 a year by 2030, greatly expanding the middle-income bracket. This provides great promise for merchants looking to enter the market and appeal to a broader segment.

There are tremendous opportunities for modern and westernized products due to Nigeria’s relatively young population and their love of western brands. This young and trendy segment of the population has an intrinsic demand for products that appeal to them in a more modern retail setting or outlet. Sales via informal channels such as open markets will decline, while sales via formal retailing channels will increase with the changing population needs and rising demand for convenience.

The key offering of both kinds of new retailing concepts is convenience: modern retail store channels offer hassle and haggle free shopping in a comfortable environment, while internet retailers also offer stress free shopping. Convenience will be a key benefit as shoppers do not have to brave the heavy traffic of major cities in Nigeria. They can now visit modern retail facilities at malls or buy something online and have it delivered to them at their home. The future of retail in Nigeria is in the here and now and will continue to see an upward trend.

Anthony Bio for Blogs

           Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe flag

Zimbabwe, formerly Rhodesia, was one of the last countries to gain its independence from colonial rule in 1980. Prior to independence Zimbabwe had a diversified economy, well developed infrastructure, and an advanced financial sector. It is now one of Africa’s poorest countries.

Harare_Zimbabwe_2010-5The current president, Robert Mugabe, has been in power during most of Zimbabwe’s short history. Mugabe’s time as leader of Zimbabwe has been controversial. Mugabe faces claims of human rights violations, corruption, and his economic policies have been questioned. The Mugabe administration redistributed commercial farms owned by non-black-African farmers to native Zimbabweans and many in the international community have also claimed he is racist to minority whites because of his “Indigenization” policies, which gave Black Zimbabweans the right to take over and control many foreign and white owned businesses.

Welcome to Zimbabwe

Mugabe recently gained a new term as president during heated elections in 2013. Leaders of the opposition party, the MDC, claimed that Mugabe and his party, the Zanu-PF, fraudulently stole the election even though results showed a landslide victory for the 91 year old Mugabe.

Business Environment

Zimbabwe has a population of over 13 million and English is the official language with multiple dialects being spoken throughout the country. Zimbabwe, like much of Africa, has a large youth population with 62% of the country under the age of 24.

Youth in ZimbabweZimbabwe remains one of the world’s least free economies. The labor market is one of the most restricted in the world, and business licensing forces most workers to seek employment in the informal sector. The violent seizure of land through the indigenization policy has underscored poor government land reform policies and upset investor confidence in a once-vibrant agricultural sector. Prior to the land reform Zimbabwe was a major tobacco producer and a bread basket for surrounding countries.

 Zimbabwe’s economy had a decade of contraction from 1998-2008 followed by hyperinflation in 2009. The country  was ravaged by hyperinflation, which officially reached 500 trillion per cent in 2008. The economy started to stabilize between years 2009-2012 but appears to be backsliding at this time.

Zimbabwe does not have its own currency and uses eight others as legal tender, with the US dollar and South African rand most commonly used. By 2009 the worthless Zimbabwe dollar was replaced by a multi-currency system based largely on the American dollar. The switch to the American dollar brought stability, but at a cost. As the dollar rises in value against other currencies in the region, such as South Africa’s rand, it makes Zimbabwean business less competitive.

Zimbabwe has a huge informal economy with unemployment as high as 95%. 80% of the population lives below the poverty line. Zimbabwe has its share of problems from political violence, human rights violations, land reforms, and an economic collapse but it also has hope and opportunity. Zimbabwe has one of Africa’s highest literacy rates at over 90%. The population is usually better educated than the African average, making the people one of the greatest assets of the country. It also has a growing telecommunications and mobile money industry.

Zimbabwe mobile market look

Zimbabwe has a mobile penetration rate of 104%. There are currently 13.5 million subscribers and the largest telecommunications company is Econet, with 9 million subscribers. There are over 5 million mobile data subscribers with 98% of those subscribers accessing the internet via their mobile device. The current internet penetration rate in Zimbabwe is 64%.

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Zimbabweans have very little confidence in their formal banking sector. A record number of banks have failed in the last decade. Apart from that, many account holders lost fortunes to the banking sector when the Zimbabwean economy crashed in 2009. Not a single penny of the Zimbabwean dollar value held by the banks was paid to account holders when the country changed over to the US dollar. The adoption of the US dollar has brought about its own headaches to the Zimbabwean economy. Major problems include illiquidity and the lack of small denominations. Getting change when transacting is therefore a problem. This kind of environment has favored the widespread use of mobile money –which is cashless.

Zimbabwe is one of nine countries in the world where more people use mobile money than have bank accounts. According to a study conducted by FBC Securities in October 2014, only 14% of Zimbabwe’s 13 million population have bank accounts (approximately 1.8 million Zimbabweans). The country’s three mobile network service providers (Econet, Telecel and Netone) dominate the mobile money sector. Econet through its EcoCash brand is by far the biggest mobile money service brand in Zimbabwe. EcoCash pioneered the service in the country and enjoys all the first mover advantages. It has made a significantly higher investment into brand and platform awareness than any other player allowing EcoCash to become a household name. Econet Wireless has 3 million registered users for its mobile money product and now accounts for about 20% of payments and purchases in Zimbabwe.

EcoCash, offering domestic P2P money transfer services, is just the first step towards a much bigger goal: becoming the dominant payment system in Zimbabwe for the banked and unbanked alike. EcoCash is currently targeting two pain points with major commercial opportunity: enabling retail payments to merchants and creating a bridge between the informal and formal sectors. To capitalize on these opportunities, EcoCash is building two important structures: a merchant acceptance network and full interoperability with Zimbabwe’s banks. EcoCash sees interoperability with banks as the key to linking Zimbabwe’s formal and informal economies. There is substantial demand for payment services between these sectors, with money flowing between banked and unbanked families, and between unbanked individuals and the formal sector in the form of retail payments, school fees, and utility bills.

The key regulators in Zimbabwe include The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe for the financial sector and Postal and Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) a telecommunication regulator for the communications sector. Regulation has lagged behind the technological innovations happening in the telecom/mobile money sector. Initially, the Post and Telecommunications board had oversight over the activities of the mobile network service providers but with the emergence of the mobile money –the central bank has also become involved. The responsibilities of the two regulatory authorities overlap and of late they have been fighting for turf at the expense of developing the mobile money sector.

City of HarareIn the last decade Zimbabwe has seen the worst and is hoping the future will be better. Things are still on the brink, as the current backsliding of the economy has shown, and many are confident things will change once Mugabe is no longer in power, which may happen soon considering his advanced age. There can be no question that certain policies, such as the land reform policy, have hurt the Zimbabwean economy and its people. The growth of the telecommunications and mobile money sector gives the country hope that it is turning a corner and that the future will truly be better than the recent past!

Anthony Bio for Blogs

Ecommerce in Nigeria
Nigeria is the largest country by population in Sub-Saharan Africa and it also has the biggest economy. By 2030, one in every six Africans will be Nigerians, and Nigeria will have one of the 25 largest economies in the world. One area to look for continued growth and real opportunity is E-Commerce or M-Commerce (Mobile Commerce). In 2014 Nigeria recorded over $2 million worth of online transactions per week and close to $1.3 billion monthly. Nigeria’s e-commerce market is developing rapidly, with an estimated growth rate of 25 percent annually.

According to an online researcher, emarketer, while e-commerce across the rest of the world is growing at 16.8 per cent, Africa’s e-commerce space is growing at a rate of 25.8 per cent – making it the fastest growing in the world. Nigerians are notorious for their love of shopping. The Euromonitor Nigeria in a 2011 report revealed that Nigerians spend $6.3 billion per year on clothing. In a recent survey conducted by Philip Consulting 38 percent of Nigerians prefer to buy products through the internet. Middle class consumers are the biggest purchasers online. Nigeria’s middle class now accounts for 28 percent of the population, and the middle class are well educated, with 92 percent having completed a post-secondary school education. This middle class is brand conscious and tech savvy and their technology of choice is a mobile device.

Mobile phone shopping
A Terragon Group study in 2014 shows 63 per cent of Nigerian internet users had bought at least one item online. 60 percent of these buyers claimed to have used their mobile phones for these purchases. 86 percent of the respondents to the Terragon Group study claim to carry out research about an item before making a purchase, and 80 per cent pointed at mobile as their major platform for research. Mobile is the first and major point of access for all internet activities. Nigeria is the largest mobile market in Africa and the 10th largest in the world. 71 million Nigerians access Internet via mobile phones according to statistics released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and Nigeria was number eight among the top 10 internet user countries in the world.

connectivityOne of the keys to growth in e-commerce is connectivity. Internet access in the past has been spotty at best, but is getting better. Nigeria’s internet subscriber base rose from 48.2 million in June 2013 to 67.4 million in June 2014. This represents a density of 40 percent, placing the country above the African average of around 16 percent, as estimated by McKinsey & Company. Nigeria’s internet access market is set to witness a huge boost, as the federal government has set the target of a five-fold increase in broadband penetration by 2018. This is continued good news for e-commerce in Nigeria and Nigeria’s Minister of Communications Technology, Dr. Omobola Johnson, has said that Nigeria’s e-commerce market has a potential worth of $10 billion with about 300,000 online orders currently being made on daily basis.

Even with all the potential and the good that is currently happening there are still core issues. The lack of basic infrastructure, the failed postage system, power supply, expensive broadband internet and poor road networks are greatly inhibiting the rapid growth of e-commerce business in Nigeria. Nigeria’s notoriety for online fraud has further hindered growth. In 2005, PayPal closed all Nigerian accounts and denied registration to any user traced to a Nigerian IP address. PayPal has since changed that policy and entered the Nigerian market this past summer. Outdated myths can be hard to shake and unfortunately some still see Nigeria as a haven to scam artists and fraud. Another area of concern is cybercrime. The lack of legislation that specifically targets cybercrime or cyber security has no doubt continually hampered accelerated growth in the e-commerce sector. Legal intervention will need to be raised to deal with future nefarious activities online.

Nigerians shopping
There are tremendous opportunities for e-commerce growth. In Nigeria shopping is a task that takes an incredible amount of time and effort. Many wealthy Nigerians still travel abroad to shop. Some of the reasons for going abroad are limitations on what one can buy online and the challenges associated with online shopping systems. Increased internet access, more affordable data costs, mobile connectivity, the convenience offered by online shopping, and a better product offering should attract more Nigerian consumers to make use of e-commerce sites. Two of Nigeria’s largest e-commerce sites, Jumia and Konga, have seen continued growth and as more players enter the market not only will the consumer benefit, but the Nigerian economy should benefit as well.

Anthony Bio for Blogs

Uganda- the Pearl of Africa

The next country we are visiting in our “Mobile Market Look” series is the East African country of Uganda. Uganda is a small landlocked country surrounded by the Sudan to the North, the Democratic Republic of Congo to the East, Kenya to the West, and Rwanda and Tanzania to the South. An English speaking country, with many local dialects also spoken, and a population of 37.5 million, Uganda has experienced a period of political stability and economic growth. Under the leadership of President Yoweri Museveni, who came into power in 1986, Uganda has seen steady economic growth and currently has a GDP of $21 Billion USD. GDP grew by 5.8% in 2014 with expected growth of 6.6% for 2014 and the economic prospects for this country are looking up.

Business and Economic Environment

Uganda is well endowed with natural resources and agriculture and fishing are two of the biggest industries in Uganda. Up to 80% of Ugandans are farmers and agribusiness is big. Uganda is among the leading producers of coffee and bananas. It is also a major producer of tea, cotton, tobacco, cereals, oilseeds, fresh and preserved fruit, vegetables and nuts, essential oils, orchids, flowers and silk.Kampala__Uganda

Uganda also has its own issues. With a weak infrastructure, lack of education, lack of training, high unemployment (as high as 62% amongst the youth), Uganda ranks 132nd on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business List out of 189 countries. The government is also facing an increasing threat from civil unrest. Protests commonly occur in Kampala and have turned violent although foreign interests are not generally targeted. There are moderate risks in areas of terrorism, health, crime, poor transportation infrastructure and Uganda is prone to flooding. Even with these challenges things are looking bright, especially in the area of mobile technology.

Uganda’s Mobile Landscape

Uganda has a young population, the second youngest in the World according to the World Bank. 70% of the population is under the age of 25 and mobile technology is their technology of choice. Uganda has 16 million mobile subscribers and most Ugandans own multiple phones to save money when calling different networks. Mobile providers do not offer contracts to consumers, so consumers purchase calling cards for a set amount of minutes or airtime. Uganda has a huge agency network of kiosks throughout the country where consumers can top up. Street hawkers also sell calling cards on the road, or side of the road, and Ugandans can purchase calling cards from even the remotest part of the country.MTN-mobile-money-customers

The mobile penetration rate in Uganda in 51%. Internet use is also growing as over 6 million people use the internet in Uganda, and of those 6 million people, 95% access the internet via their mobile device. Smartphones are not yet as prevalent in Uganda but Ugandans are still able to access social media via 2G and 3G technology. Ugandans use their phones to check social media, listen to the radio, and check news. Some of the most visited sites in Uganda are Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Google, and Yahoo.

Mobile money and mobile banking are areas that have a lot of potential and have experienced major growth. Only 20% of the population is banked and 27 million Ugandans are unbanked due to poverty, bank fees, amount of documentation required to open an account, and travel costs. Mobile money has stepped in to meet the needs of this underserved part of the population. 68% of all mobile subscribers in Uganda are aware of and have used mobile money and mobile money applications. Mobile money transfers have grown from 87.5 million transactions in 2011 to 242 million at the end of 2012. The number of mobile money users has grown from 2.9 million in 2009 to over 17 million in 2014. There was an increase of 46% mobile money users from 2013 to 2014 and from June of 2013 to June of 2014 there were 445 million mobile money transactions valued at 22.2 Trillion Ugandan Shillings ($8.4B USD).

Ugandans prefer mobile money because it is a fast service and its’ accessible. Ugandans use mobile money not only to transfer money, but to pay water bills, school fees, and other utility payments such as Pay TV. Utility providers such as Umeme and National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) have partnered with mobile money service providers to ease payment systems and concentrate on their core businesses of power and water distribution.

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The list of current money transfer and mobile money providers include Airtel (Airtel Money), Africell, Uganda Telecomm (M-Sente), MCash, Yo!Payments , and WorldRemit. The biggest player in the market is MTN Uganda. MTN’s Mobile Money records 25,000 transactions per month and has a subscriber base of 8.8 million consumers.

Mobile money operators are doing well and to increase the levels of awareness for their services they have started to integrate with the banks. MTN joined a partnership with Crane Bank last year to offer MTN Mobile Money as a cash out ATM service. Other banks such as Centenary Bank and UBA (United Bank of Africa) have also gone into partnerships with MTN and other mobile money providers such as Airtel also have their own bank partnerships with financial institutions such as Equity Bank. Mobile money is continuing to grow and as technology and security becomes better will offer more value for their consumers. There is still room for value added services from the mobile money providers and financial institutions for the consumers, but overall the mobile technology space, especially mobile money and money transfers, is expanding and the future of this sector in Uganda is looking promising.

Please visit our “Mobile Market Look” series for Kenya, Nigeria, and Ghana

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Anthony Bio for Blogs

This will be the first in our new series, “Mobile Market Look”, where we look at mobile markets in Africa and other emerging countries around the World. Kenya is one of the hotbeds in terms of mobile innovation and sophistication and we hope you enjoy this article and please feel free to leave any comments you may have.

Kenya flagKenya

Africa has been growing at an unprecedented rate and Kenya is one of the fastest growing tech and mobile markets in the World. Known as “Savannah Silicon Valley”, Kenya is home to over 500 startups in the mobile and digital industries. Kenyans are extremely tech savvy and 70% of the population owns a mobile phone, with 16 million Kenyans accessing the internet through their phones. Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, is home to the ihubs, incubator space for the tech community that includes 10,000 members an over 150 incubator start-up companies. Companies such as Google, Intel, and Samsung have a presence in Nairobi and IBM set up its first African Innovation Lab in Kenya. If you are in the mobile or tech industry, whether as a company or an investor, Kenya is a country you should get to know and want to do business in.

Kenya is the most developed economy in East Africa with a good education system and a strong business environment. Kenya is a young country with 70% of the population of 44 million people under the age of 35. Kenya also has its issues as 50% of the population lives in poverty and unemployment, although officially listed as 10.5%, can be as high as 40%. There are obstacles, but there are also opportunities. And no opportunity is bigger in Kenya at this time than the mobile money and mobile payment market.

Kenya’s Mobile Market Landscape

Kenya phones Kenya has the most sophisticated mobile money ecosystem in Africa, and maybe the World. Infrastructure improvements, and lack of rigid regulations by the Central Bank of Kenya and the government, have led to market growth and an increase in digital services. M-Pesa, established by Safaricom in 2007, started the current mobile payment revolution and now transacts over $5 billion annually which accounts for 17% of Kenya’s GDP. Over 2 million mobile money transactions take place every day and according to MEF studies mobile money and mobile payments still present the greatest opportunity for growth in Kenya. It is estimated that 85% of the population has used mobile money at some point and most Kenyans prefer mobile money to cash because of the ease of use and the safety. Most African nations are cash-based and people still carry large sums of cash on them, especially when they are sending money to relatives in remote parts of the country, so mobile money offers a safer and easier alternative. Kenya’s financial institutions have picked up on this and are jumping on the bandwagon and creating their own mobile money products. Equity Bank has its own M-Kesho mobile money product and I&M Bank has its own prepaid Safari Card available on the M-Pesa platform.

Even with growth and prosperity Kenya faces security issues and economic problems. There have recently been terrorist attacks on the Kenyan coast by Al-Shabaab, a Somali terrorist group associated with Al-Qaeda, and no one should forget the terrorist attacks that took place at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi over a year ago. The country has a high poverty rate and weak infrastructure and on the business side there is a lack of capital and belief and faith by investors towards the Kenyan market, and also the Sub-Saharan African market as a whole. Even the mobile market is experiencing its own issues. There is a current price war which has benefited the consumers by leading to decreased prices and more mobile subscriptions, but has created lean profit margins and less profitability for the mobile operators. There is also the concern of the dominance of Safaricom and M-Pesa who currently has the dominant mobile marketshare of 70%. Other mobile operators such as Airtel, Yu, and Orange have a presence but pale in comparison to Safaricom.ihub Kenya

Obstacles do exist, but even with these problems and many others the mobile industry in Kenya is experiencing good times. Mobile phone penetration is 78% in Kenya and Africa had an annual mobile growth rate of 82% between 2000 and 2013, highest in the World. There are currently 500 million mobile subscriptions in Africa and there is expected growth in subscriptions of 50% over the next 5 years. Kenyans have also taken to smart phone technology and 67% of all phones sold in Kenya are smartphones. Kenyans like to listen to music, play games, look for sports updates, and watch TV and video on their phones. They also like social media and Kenya has the second most Twitter users in Africa behind South Africa and the second most Facebook users in Africa behind Nigeria. So the promise and potential is bright and the opportunities for business and investment is maybe the best it has ever been. Kenya is definitely a place you should want to be!

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Anthony Bio for Blogs

 

Is your business is targeting the youth of Sub-Sahara Africa?  If not, then your business is missing out on the largest and fastest growing youth consumer market in the World.  According to a Mckinsey & Company study over 50% of Africans are under the age of 20 and over the next decade this group will grow faster than any other youth group in the World.

In 2013 Africans aged 16-34 accounted for 65% of the consumer spending in Sub-Sahara Africa, or SSA.  A quick profile of this youth consumer shows that they are online and tech savvy, image-conscious, prefer quality first, price second, are brand conscious, mobile, and they are digital.  And their digital technology of choice is the mobile phone.Image

Mobile Technology is the de facto technology of choice for the youth of Africa.  For this article I define the youth of Sub-Sahara Africa, SSA, as anyone between the ages of 14-34.  For this group the mobile phone is a passport to a flexible new world that is much desired.

Their mobile phone defines their status and distinguishes their place in society.  The more expensive your mobile device the richer you are, the cheaper your device, the poorer you are. Most young people initially buy low cost, low brand devices, such as Techno, or Huawei, but once they save up enough money they go for a more expensive, nicer looking phone.  Youth consumers in SSA are very brand and image conscious and their mobile device is proof of that.

Another key trend is mobile devices no longer just being phones.  Mobile devices have now become tablets, phablets, and phonblets.  SSA youth are using their mobile devices to view, store, and create mobile content. Even though more youth are using mobile devices daily, only 20% of a phone’s functionality is actually being used according to mobile tech industry analysts.  Of that 20% however, more than 70% of that usage is for communication (email, SMS, social networking, downloading games, music and video apps, etc.).

Internet access is also getting better and sites like Youtube and Facebook receive millions of visits and subscribers.  Texting is still prevalent and phones are used more often for texting than voice calls. However texting can now be broadly viewed as messaging. There is SMS and then there are data based free messaging services like Whatsapp, Ebuddy, and BBM that now actively compliment SMS.

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Mobile also provides privacy and control for SSA youth.  Having a phone allows them to keep information from the prying eyes of their parents and family.  According to an InMobi Report in 2012, 47% of Nigerian youth say they love their mobile device because it allows them to keep their information private.

SSA youth also keep their mobile devices on them at all times an according to an InMobi report.  Mobile provides SSA youth with “Found Time”.  Found Time is described as using your mobile device at any time, whether in the bathroom, on the bus, or on your bed to check-in to social networking sites such as Facebook, IRokoTV, etc.social media in Africa

For the business side mobile commerce exists but has not really become part of everyday culture.  Countries where mobile money is strong, such as Kenya and Tanzania, see more activity in regards to mobile commerce, but continent wide this phenomenon has not completely gained steam at this time.  I spoke with Dayo Adefila, CMO of MMIT in Nigeria, on why this current situation exists.  “My guess for why mobile commerce is so low in a majority of countries is the lack of a clear value Proposition.  Merchants are not advertising mobile money acceptance so end-users don’t want any issues with their money.  They basically avoid M-commerce sites.”

Understanding this demographic is vital to understanding the future of SSA.  The technology may change but the consumer habits of tomorrow are being formed today.  The traditional consumer patterns of the West and how companies approach these consumers does not apply to SSA.  The approach taken to reach and speak directly to these consumers is unique and local to SSA and it starts with mobile technology.

Anthony Bio for Blogs

 

When we think of the potential for a cashless society we tend to look at the developed World and markets such as the United States or Europe as the places most likely for this development.  Even with credit cards and smart phones being ubiquitous throughout these countries you would be wise to look to emerging markets as the potential birthplace of a future cashless society.

cash is king

Mobile technology is growing and more than 1.7 billion people have cell phones but no bank accounts in emerging and developing markets.  According to the GMSA in 2012 there were123 mobile-money deployments in emerging markets, with 84 of them originating within the last 3 years.  Mobile money has the ability to offer financial services to the unbanked and reach consumers in the remotest parts of the World.  Even with the potential there is still a long way to go and Nigeria is a great example of this.Image

One of the emerging countries leading the cashless society initiative is Nigeria.  The cashless initiative in Nigeria is in its early stages.  The Central Bank of Nigeria, or CBN, has estimated that it will cost over $930 million to invest in new POS terminals, ATM’s, and payment solutions by 2015 as part of its “Cash-Less Lagos Project”.  Recently the CBN announced 40 billion Naira per day is being transacted virtually and the bulk of these transactions are being conducted in Lagos.

Initially CBN was targeting a phased approach post-pilot in Lagos State and then moving to a second phase which CBN claimed would cover close to 90% of all financial transactions in the country.  Due to the success of the Lagos Pilot CBN decided to implement the cashless push nationwide.  One of the stumbling blocks was the lack of infrastructure to facilitate cashless transactions conveniently and relatively close to the population. Kim Fraser, COO of MMIT, commented on the problems with the pilot program in Nigeria.  “In the Lagos Pilot there were only 10,000 POS systems on the ground in Lagos State.   Today there are over 150,000 POS systems deployed. It is still a small number to cover a country as large as Nigeria.  In addition the CBN has also realized that the term “Cashless” was scaring a lot of people especially in a country where 80% of the population is unbanked. The new catch phrase that the CBN prefers is “Cashlite”. There is still a significant way to go even under the new mantra of Cashlite though CBN appears to be making progress”.

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The debate for a cashless society has its positives and negatives.  For financial institutions a positive development of a cashless society is its ability to reduce costs required to print money and increase its consumer base and services to include the non-banked of the emerging and developing World.  For consumers there is an ease for transactions and the prospect of no longer having to carry cash.  Carrying cash can be a major problem in emerging countries where the risk of being robbed is greater. There is also potential for less corruption and more transparency in a cashless society.

The negatives include the invasion of privacy; security and fraud, and the wide divergence in the experience of mobile money service providers around the world.  There are some obvious hurdles that are slowing the progress of a cashless society including the lack of infrastructure, scalability, and the sustainability of mobile financial services.  So what does this mean for telecom and financial institutions?  It means there exists opportunities for the continued development of new financial products and greater customer education for their products.  If the telecom providers and financial institutions can create a healthy relationship with each other and with their consumer bases there can be continued growth and success for mobile money and other cashless initiatives.

Anthony Bio for Blogs

 

 

In my first article on the growth of the African Consumer I looked at the emerging middle class of Africa and the role mobile technology has played on the continent.  In this article I focus on the challenges that still exist and look at whether this current growth can be continued and sustained.

A lot of the media has focused on the rise and growth of the African continent and consumer but even with this rise and growth there are still major problems that plague the continent.  There is growth but most of it is a jobless growth.  There is poverty, inequality, health concerns, consumers with lack of resources and capital being excluded from the formal economy (a large percentage of population is part of the informal economy and cash based), a narrow demand structure of those who are part of the formal sector, corruption, and weak infrastructure.

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Also many do not understand that Africa is not a homogeneous region, it is highly fragmented, with many different countries (54 in all), with many different laws, languages, customs, business cultures, and varying degrees of education.  But even with all of these issues and concerns there is great hope and optimism for Africa in the near and long term future.  The biggest question is how to make sure the current growth is continual and sustainable.Image

Some of the key components of continued growth according to Steven Radelet in “Emerging Africa” is: access to information, a better business enabling environment, access to finance, and collaboration of private and public sectors to come together to make these other 3 things become a reality. I will first look at the access to information.  Africa is losing the moniker of the Dark Continent as technology is allowing more people to become informed.  I briefly discussed the use of the mobile phone for the betterment of lives in Africa in my last article.  There is an increase in digital consumers in mobile and this leapfrogging technology is disrupting the traditional and current business models.  Over 80 million people currently log into the internet through their mobile phones and more undersea fiber optic cables are being installed which will allow even more people to be connected in the near future.

Africa needs a stronger and better business enabling environment.  There is a need for harmonization and integration across markets that will allow the growth of inter Sub-Saharan African trade and scalable markets and more regional markets and trade blocks.  One of the major questions that confronts Africa is the creation of regional trade blocks and will these trade blocks allow Africa to become one market?  And does Africa have right institutions and frameworks to create regional trade blocks?  This is a question better answered by policy makers and politicians but it is something to continue to look at and monitor.  Continued growth is also part of the political and macroeconomic stability fostered by governments taking accountability.  Less corruption and more transparency along with democratic rights are important for sustained growth.

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There is also a need for Africans to become manufacturers of what they consume for growth to be sustainable.  The creation of strong manufacturing and industrial base is vital to internal African growth.  Currently Africans are consumers of things they don’t produce and they need to be able to satisfy the needs of their growing and large domestic markets.  There is also a need to change from an import/export model of growth in regards to revenue streams to more domestic growth being spurred by increasing population, urbanization, and increase in income and decline in poverty.  This can be spurred on by a collaboration of public and private sectors, increased financing, and the entrepreneurial spirit that exists in many African countries.

So for the near to short term I see the major areas of growth and potential growth being: retail, telecommunications, ICT (Information and Communication Technologies), finance services and banking, home and personal care products, agri-business and staple foods.  In my opinion retail can be a key contributor to job creation and in some countries there is already a high demand for retail space by domestic and international retailers.  Also it is important that products are affordable and of great necessity to those that will be consuming them.  I hope you have appreciated the two articles about the growth of the African consumer and if you have any thoughts or ideas you would like to contribute feel free to contact me.

Anthony Bio for Blogs

 

The African consumer market is regarded as the Next Investment Frontier with a population of a billion plus people.  In 2012 Africa was home to 7 of the 10 fastest growing economies in the World and was the second fastest growing region of the World next to Asia.  With this growth has come prosperity and rising incomes.  Sub-Sahara Africa currently has a GDP, Gross Domestic Product, of $1.263 trillion as of 2011 according to the World Bank, and that number is expected to grow to $2.6 trillion by the year 2020.

The continent has also seen a steady annual growth of GDP of 4.5% over the last decade, much higher than the developed World during that same time.  It is also estimated that close to 128 million households across the continent will have increased discretionary income and that consumer spending will increase to $1.4 trillion by 2020.  Discretionary income is defined as $5,000 or more per year and where 50% of spending is on non-food items.

Businesses are trying to capture the rising middle classes in Africa.  Euromonitor estimates that there are over 313 million middle class consumers in Africa and that this group is growing.Image

The population is also expected to double by 2050, and is urbanizing rapidly with an expanding working age population.  Sub-Saharan Africa also has a large youth population with 62 percent of its citizens under the age of 25.  These youth consumers are digitally savvy and brand conscious.  They desire quality brand name products and are sophisticated in their knowledge of these products.  Technology is at the forefront for this age demographic and their technology of choice is the mobile phone.

According to a McKinsey & Company African Consumer Insights Survey, 25% of all urban consumers, which is a market of nearly 80 million people, access the internet daily from their mobile phones.

Nigeria is one of the hotspots for mobile and I spoke with Jide Akindele, CEO of MMIT a mobile payment processor based in Lagos on the role of mobile in Nigeria for the West African consumer.  “Our company operates in the Mobile Money space and we are seeing tremendous growth in this area.  Mobile money is shaping up to be something interesting for West African consumers.  Mobile money aggregators are trying to find a niche market that can latch on to these consumers and have a presence in this growing industry.  One mobile money company in Nigeria that has done a great job with this is Paga.  From the beginning Paga put a lot of emphasis on making sure the name Paga was a household name that everyone in Nigeria could recognize, speak about and use has an example when describing the industry. This has been a major plus for Paga and this business model is a wave which all the other mobile money aggregators are trying to replicate.”

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Growth is not only country specific but is regional specific.  East Africa has one of the strongest regional trade blocks on the continent, in EAC, and Kenya has become the IT hub of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Mobile has also played its role in this part of the World.  I spoke with Denis Bogere, a native of Jinja, Uganda and a graduate of the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at UMass-Boston.   “How much would you like to pay? It may seem to be simple logic but that phrase implies that a Ugandan consumer cannot be put in one singularity. Ugandan consumers have diverse needs along the lines of affordability. There are three prime consumers in Uganda: the poor, middle class, and rich and their consumer habits are affected by aspects such as income. However, regardless of their differences in lifestyle, ability and purchasing power of goods and services these consumers share a common thread which is their affinity for mobile technology. The mobile phone has not only become the basis for communication and connectivity, but also for money transfers for daily purchases.  This can partly explain the explosive use of advertising platforms via the mobile.  The growth potential that mobile technology offers the key to unlocking the mind of a Ugandan consumer which may as well help in understanding the future of the mobile industry and its growth potential.”

In this article I have looked at the growth of Africa, the rising middle class, the youth consumer, and the importance mobile technology plays on the continent.  This a 2-part series and I will next look at the obstacles still facing Sub-Sahara Africa and what the continent can do to ensure continued and sustainable growth.

Anthony Bio for Blogs