An increase of 10% in mobile Internet penetration can have a direct impact to the GDP per capita by 2.5%
economy can be an
engine for growth
The mobile Internet is transforming life across Africa through growing connectivity, mobility, and a young, increasingly urban population. The e-Conomy Africa 2020 report, a collaboration between Google and IFC, an arm of the World Bank Group, highlights opportunities for growth throughout the continent.
The report describes the African Internet economy as “one of the largest investment opportunities of the past decade” and one that, despite setbacks from COVID-19, is on track to expand and further transform lives in the coming decade.
Niama El Bassunie, CEO and Founder of WaystoCap, and Peter Njonjo, Co-Founder and CEO of Twiga Foods, recount how they became entrepreneurs and discuss tech opportunities in Africa
Africa’s $180 billion Internet economy future
By 2025, the Internet economy has the potential to contribute $180 billion to Africa’s economy, helping improve productivity in areas ranging from agriculture, health care, and financial services to education and supply chains.
Since 2000, the number of people with access to the Internet has grown to over 520 million, or almost 40% of the population. Sixty percent of Africa’s Internet population accesses the Internet through mobile phones, and an increase of 10% in mobile Internet penetration can have a direct impact to the GDP per capita by 2.5%, compared to 2% globally.
Africa’s developer community: 716,000 strong and growing
Hundreds of thousands of software developers work in the Internet economy across Africa, primarily in South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, Kenya and Morocco. Using a variety of formal and informal education methods, these coders are gaining the skills that give them access to well-paying jobs.
In fact, as companies and tech entrepreneurs continue to innovate in Africa, coders increasingly see software development as an avenue for upward mobility. Coders of all genders are pursuing the new opportunities stemming from this expanding ecosystem.
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"I want to do and learn more things on the phone by myself. It feels good to not depend on other people, but right now it’s too complicated to figure out."
New internet users:
similar and very
For more than a year, Google researchers have been following new internet users in five countries to learn about their perceptions of technology, their aspirations, and their challenges and achievements using their first smartphones.
By 2025, a billion more people will have their first smartphone. Their reasons for wanting these devices are very similar to those who came before: information, entertainment, empowerment, convenience, connection. But in important ways, the context of these new users is quite different.
The newest internet users tend to have lower incomes, less formal education, and live in less developed areas with more unreliable internet. Their exposure to technology is more limited than those already using smartphones, and many lack confidence in how to use their devices.
“ It’s easier for me to learn visually. For example, I know to hit the red button to hang up a call. But there’s so many new things to understand—it’s overwhelming.”
“ I only feel confident using the phone after lots of practice, but I don’t have 2-3 hours every day to learn. Basic tasks aren’t basic, at least for me. How do others do it so easily?”
“ Why is the phone so abstract? I like apps that use real world images and simple, natural language. By the way, what is an account?”
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The proportion of men using the internet is higher than women in two-thirds of countries worldwide.
Toward a more
Gender inequity exists online, just as it does in the physical world.
In many cases, women aren’t able to access the internet when, where and how they want – even if they own their own device. Many don’t have enough free time, while others don’t have permission. Where women can access the internet, many don’t find meaningful content.
And for many women, harassment – online and offline – creates a space where they don’t feel fully in control of their online identities. Cyberstalking, malicious editing, and the fear of strangers sharing personal content without consent can result in destroyed reputations and even physical harm.
To understand more about why gender inequity exists and how to address it, Google spent one year conducting interviews and surveys with nearly 4,000 participants across seven countries.
“ I have to do all the housework, cleaning, bathing kids, teaching them. I am so tired... I really want to use my phone, but where is the time?”
Four key challenges to overcome
Through research, we identified four areas that need to be addressed to move the world toward a more gender-equitable internet: access, content and community, privacy, and safety.
Can women go online on their own terms?
Content & Community
When women come online, do they find relevant content?
Do women feel in control of thier online and offline identities?
Do women feel safe online and offline?
1.7 billion adults in the world are unbanked or underbanked, and the majority are women.
Around the world, 1.7 billion adults – most of them women – either don't have bank accounts or must rely on alternative banking services for their financial needs. Known as the unbanked or underbanked, this group’s lack of access has huge implications for individuals, their families, and for economic development globally.
Digital innovation has the power to inject dynamism into economies that are currently held back by formal structures and lack of credit. Instead of waiting years for incomes to rise and banks to extend their reach, countries can use mobile technology to rapidly expand access and provide a wide set of financial tools to everyone.
“ Vijay, the owner of a small laundry shop in Bangalore, India, wanted to accept card payments but couldn’t afford it – until a digital solution came along.”
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Innovating with real-time payment systems
Real-time payment systems, which offer near-instant transactions and a minimum of friction, are fundamentally changing how money is sent and received around the world.
Rolled out in more than 50 countries, including India, Nigeria, Brazil, and Mexico, real-time payments provide a solid foundation on which companies can build, innovate, and thrive. What’s more, evidence suggests that this kind of payment model can play a role in reducing poverty and corruption, and increase economic development.