While Africa has historically been synonymous with commodity-driven economies, there’s no doubt that the region is experiencing sustained growth and diversification through the digital age.
To this end, Africa now has one of the most digitally connected populations on the planet, with approximately 400 million Internet users located throughout the region. As of January of this year, Southern Africa boasted the highest Internet penetration rate at 62% of the population, while the total share of people using the World Wide Web throughout Africa is higher than the global average of 59.5%.
But what are the numbers behind Africa’s digital revolution, and what are the best online businesses in the region?
How Jumia Highlights Online Growth in Africa
There are numerous figures to highlight Africa’s sustained online growth, including the composition of the global financial entities such as the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).
Several of the latest technology firms to be listed on the NYSE are from developing economies such as Africa, including Jumia.
Far removed from the confines of Silicon Valley, Jumia represents a popular ecommerce platform with a total of four million customers located across 14 separate African countries.
Since its NYSE debut on April 12th, this company has seen its shares soar by around 70% overall, while the equity’s total market capitalisation value has peaked close to $2 billion. This distinguishes the firm as Africa’s first technology unicorn, and one that’s likely to blaze a trail for others to follow in the region.
This serves as a timely reminder of Africa’s sustained digitisation, which has begun to attract the attention of investors and create a more inclusive economic and financial landscape.
Despite continuing to boast a large, unbanked population, Africa also has 122 million active users of mobile financial services, accounting for more than half the total global number.
What’s more, it’s number of mobile smartphone connections is forecast to peak at 636 million in 2022, with this more than double the number from 2015 and indicative of an increasingly connected and highly engaged society.
The Biggest Trends and Businesses Online in Africa
With an estimated 60% of all African Internet users accessing the World Wide Web through a smartphone or mobile device (and a staggering 167 million more people from Sub-Saharan Africa likely to have subscribed to mobile services by 2025), certain trends and online businesses are more likely to succeed than others over time.
Online and mobile banking services are particularly likely to record growth, for example, while those associated with alternative financial platforms and currencies can make a similar claim.
Certainly, cryptocurrency is helping to bridge the gap between the banked and unbanked populations in Africa, so companies that operate in this space (such as digital wallet facilitators) are expected to thrive.
Crypto assets also offer opportunity for investors, so traders will be able to access such tokens through the MT4 online platform alongside more traditional asset classes like forex, stocks, commodities and safe-haven options including gold.
We definitely saw forex and derivative trading increase markedly in Africa through 2020, and this trend will only continue against the backdrop of continued economic uncertainty and further digitisation.
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