If you are not making use of the increase in Internet penetration rate in Africa and Cameroon by now, then you must be missing an investment that will pay in future. It is expected that by the year 2050, Africa will have a population of about 2.4 billion people (IMF). It is also said Africa will be the next big emerging market.

What are your takes on the increase in Internet penetration rate in Africa and the growing retail sector in the continent? What are you going to do with the expected 200 million people who will be using a form of social media by the year 2020?

It is high time we start taking advantage of these figures to make our presence felt in the market place where future businesses will be exposed to the entire world – the Internet. If you don’t know, you can check why it is important to have a website for your business.

Internet penetration rate increasing in Africa

According to statistics from the Internet World Stats, the total estimated number of Internet users in Africa was 474,120,563 by March 31, 2019. Same source also put the total number of Internet users in the world at 4,346,561,853 as of same date.

Country Population (2019 Est.) Internet Users 31-Dec-2000 Internet Users 31-Mar-2019 Penetration (%Population) Facebook subscribers 31-Dec-2017
Africa 1,320,038,716 4,514,400 474,120,563 35.9 % 204,304,118
Rest of world 6,433,444,493 83.0 % 3,872,441,290 60.2 % 1,942,054,452
World Total 7,753,483,209 100.0 % 4,346,561,853 56.1 % 2,146,358,570

Source: Internet World Stats

When compared to the rest of the world which is 60.2%, Africa is lagging behind with 35.9% which is even below the world average that stands at 56.1%. Breaking it down to Africa, Kenya has the highest Internet penetration rate based on statistics from 2000-2019. It has 83% growth rate followed surprisingly by Liberia with 80.9% with the third, Seychelles coming at 70.1%.

Country Population (2019 Est.) Internet Users 31-Dec-2000 Internet Users 31-Mar-2019 Penetration (%Population) Facebook subscribers 31-Dec-2017
Kenya 52,214,791 200,000 43,329,434 83.0 % 7,000,000
Liberia 4,977,720 500 4,028,418 80.9 % 4,028,418
Seychelles 95,702 6,000 67,119 70.1 % 61,000

Source: Internet World Stats

Smartphones have impacted Africa Internet growth

Overall, Africa has seen a great increase in the usage of Internet since 2000. This could be because of the availability of more affordable smartphones as well as cheap mobile data plans. For instance, 80fcfa in Cameroon, you can get a data bundle to use on social media or Internet-based messenger apps. At times, Internet Service Providers even give free data bundles to its subscribers.

As for social media users, Facebook to be specific, Egypt carries the lead with 35,000,000 of it’s over 49 million people. This follows by Angola and Algeria respectively with 27,400,000 and 19,000,000.

Angola in particular has a shocking presence on social media that differs greatly with the number of Internet users. Out of the 27,400,000 Facebook users, only 7,078,067 are using Internet for other things other than social media. This is in stark contrast with a country like Kenya that has 7 million Facebook users and 43.33 million people who use Internet for other things.

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Country Population (2019 Est.) Internet Users 31-Dec-2000 Internet Users 31-Mar-2019 Penetration (%Population) Facebook subscribers 31-Dec-2017
Egypt 101,168,745 450,000 49,231,493 48.7 % 35,000,000
Angola 31,787,566 30,000 7,078,067 22.3 % 27,400,000
Algeria 42,679,018 50,000 21,000,000 49.2 % 19,000,000

Source: Internet World Stats

No surprise about world mobile money leader

From the figures, you will realize why Kenya is seen as one of the countries in Africa where the digital technology has greatly evolved. If they are not on social media, then they should be doing other things online.

I read that almost 90% of Kenyans have a mobile phone. This evolution may have been impacted by the use of phones to carry out payments. Kenya has the world’s leading mobile-money system, M-PESA which is used by more than 17m Kenyans. According to an article in The Economist, about 25% of Kenya’s gross national product flows through mobile money. This is surely why the country is seen as the leader in mobile money in the world.

North Africa’s addiction to Facebook

A deeper look at the statistics shows that Arab countries have a very high presence on social media. Take for instance out of a population of 42.68 million people in Algeria, 19 million use social media while 21 million are Internet users. Egypt leads with 35 million and 49.231 million Internet users while Tunisia comes third with 6.4 million social media users and 7.898 million Internet users.

Once I looked these figures, I came to understand why social media played a great role in the “Arab Spring” that saw protests and demonstrations in the North Africa and the Middle East. These figures may be indicative of why a lot of people could have been brought together against the ruling class during the Arab Spring.

This also may be one of the reason that brought about successful overthrow of the dictatorial regimes of these countries. It should be noted that social media played a great role in the disintegration of two dictatorships in North Africa – Tunisia and Egypt.

Egyptians in particular used Facebook to call for protest online after the aftermath of the Tunisian Revolution. This can explain why Egypt is having the highest number Facebook users in Africa.

Country Population (2019 Est.) Internet Users 31-Dec-2000 Internet Users 31-Mar-2019 Penetration (%Population) Facebook subscribers 31-Dec-2017
Algeria 42,679,018 50,000 21,000,000 49.2 % 19,000,000
Egypt 101,168,745 450,000 49,231,493 48.7 % 35,000,000
Tunisia 11,783,168 100,000 7,898,534 67.0 % 6,400,000

Source: Internet World Stats

Africa’s digital powerhouse

When you look at countries like Nigeria or Kenya where there is a high difference between Internet users and social media subscribers, then you will understand why these two countries are leading in digital ecosystem in Africa.

My opinion is that they spend more time on creating than using. Compare them with a country like Liberia almost the entire population uses social media. Note that the number of social media users in Liberia is equal to the number of Internet users.

Cameroon and the Central African Region

Cameroon has one of the highest Internet penetration rate in the Central African Region (24.2%), that’s after Gabon. With an estimated population of 25,312,993 as of 2019, Cameroon has an estimate of 6,128,422 Internet users (December 2018). Of this number, there are an estimated 2,700,000 that are subscribed to Facebook alone (December 2017).

Country Population (2019 Est.) Internet Users 31-Dec-2000 Internet Users 31-Mar-2019 Penetration (%Population) Facebook subscribers 31-Dec-2017
Gabon 2,109,099 15,000 985,492 46.7 % 620,000
Cameroon 25,312,993 20,000 6,128,422 24.2 % 2,700,000
Equatorial Guinea 1,360,104 500 312,704 23.0 % 67,000
Congo Republic 5,542,197 500 650,000 11.7 % 600,000
Central African Republic 4,825,711 1,500 256,432 5.3 % 96,000
Chad 15,814,345 1,000 768,274 4.9 % 260,000

Source: Internet World Stats

This means Cameroon has seen enormous growth with a meager 20,000 Internet user as of December 2000 to 2,700,000 users as of December 2017. This gives a growth rate of 30.542% between 2000-2019 and a 24.2% Internet penetration rate. (Source: Internet World Stats)

Business owners in particular should take advantage of such increases in the usage of Internet to widen their audience and reach more customers. This can be done by having their business present online. There are many ways you can put your business on the Internet of which the best so far is to have your own website. This is the right time to take advantage of the increase Internet penetration rate in Africa that will change how business is done in the future.

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