Mobile Web Growth in Africa: Hotter Than the Sahara!

The growth rate of mobile browsing in some African nations is up 365 percent compared to page views in those countries just one year ago. Unique users to the mobile web in Africa are on the rise too, growing 176 percent over the past 12 months. Developer and website focus may be on more developed nations with mature wireless infrastructures, but service providers shouldn’t be turning their backs on Africa just as the mobile revolution is dawning there.

This data on mobile browsing in Africa comes by way of Opera’s monthly State of the Mobile Web report, the most recent version released just this morning. Most of the report focuses on the standard bits: information showing the amount of data that Opera web users consumed, how much bandwidth is saved by Opera’s money-saving compression technology and so on. But more interesting to me is the last section, which is completely devoted to mobile browsing in Africa. Some additional highlights:

  • Mobile web data transferred in the ten African countries with the most page views is up 331 percent.
  • Those top ten nations using Opera Mini include: South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, Kenya, Ghana, Sudan, Libya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Namibia.
  • Sudan, at 4908.2 percent, and Zimbabwe, with 2321.6 percent, lead the region in terms of annual page-view growth.
  • These same two countries show the most annual growth in unique users: Zimbabwe’s user growth has increased 1719.3 percent, while Sudan’s is up 1219.4 percent.
  • While Nokia may have struck out again in the U.S. recently, it continues to do well in Africa’s low- to mid-tier handset market: In 6 of the top 10 countries, the top 10 handset lists were comprised solely of Nokia handsets, with the Nokia 5130 XpressMusic (s nok) routinely being the most popular device.

So what’s causing such explosive mobile web growth across the African continent? That’s difficult to say, although in areas with limited or slow wireless networks, Opera’s mobile browsers can speed up surfing while using less bandwidth. Opera’s report gives a glimpse of another reason: the growing popularity of top-tiered, global web destinations. According to Opera’s data, Facebook, Google (s goog) and YouTube are all routinely among the top four websites being hit up by handsets in African countries.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t room in Africa for other popular web sites on mobiles though, so if I were a mobile cloud provider or webmaster for some other mobile service, I’d consider packing my bags for a little safari right about now. And on that trip, I’d also be looking to see if any low-priced Google Android handsets could be hunted and bagged or if Nokia will continue to be king of the African jungle.

Image credit: Flickr user Michael Gwyther-Jones.

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