Economically speaking, Africa is one of the fastest growing continents in the world. Cape Town’s startup culture is thriving to the point it’s been dubbed “Silicon Cape.”

But that doesn’t mean Western economic assumptions hold up – in fact they usually don’t. That’s what Dennis captures in his conversation with Simon Griffiths of SYSPRO.  During his recent trip to South Africa, Dennis got the inside view from Simon on why mobile technology is surging in Africa.

As it turns out, 60 percent or more of all Internet usage in Africa is via a mobile phone. But if you’re thinking smart phones, you’re wrong. Text-based phones are the reality. Simon explains:

In some of the townships in South Africa, there are shared power points. Everyone in that particular area of the township shares the power point. You would need to have a phone that will last you for two or three days and can charge up in a couple of hours. What we call the old‑style feature phone is still a big issue – that’s still a big market in Africa, because it can last and it works across any network. It’s much easier to use.

As we learned in a prior JD-OD video, Mobile is also impacting African banking. Simon gives an example:

One of the major developments is mobile banking, which means that a guy sitting somewhere in a small town or a village ‑‑ with his phone ‑‑ can make a payment to the guy standing on the opposite site of the desk from him. It’s all done through the mobile platform.

Net-net: it’s a big market, but it’s different, so leave your assumptions at the airport. The guys move on to  a bit of levity about the lack of Angry Birds and the possibility of Angry Hippos, and call it a wrap.

Show Notes

1:32 The landline Internet business doesn’t work in most of Africa – it’s about mobile

2:13 Mobile market creating new opportunities

3:24 Power availability keeps the good old text-based “feature phone” alive

4:48 Mobile banking is a big trend and an appealing alternative to carrying cash

6:10 It’s a big market but a different market