There are more cellphone users in Africa than in North America.
When you are a developing continent you can skip entire stages of technological progress, like going directly from no phones to cellphones without suffering through land lines in between. Africa, for example, now has more mobile subscribers than the United States or Europe, and that means big things for African economies.
Like we’ve mentioned before, beyond its wild growth, the African cellular telecommunications market is a hotbed of innovation. Areas like telemedicine and cellphone-based money-transfer schemes don’t just make life easier, they help people live healthier and more productive lives. And not only people in urban areas, but farmers, too.
Imagine you’re a farmer in Africa. Subsistence farming has been your family’s way of life for generations. You’re subject to the wiles of the weather, and forced to make treks to urban centers sell any extra crops. A cellphone, a feature-phone at that, makes that life easier. Weather forecasts can help you prepare or even save a crop from nasty weather, like an impending freeze or dust storm. Money-management services are baked into the phone’s firmware will grease your commercial wheels, making banking services unnecessary and saving you the danger of carrying cash over long distances. Food becomes easier to grow, and money becomes easier to make (and save). Multiply that across a continent, and you’ve got the seeds of a agricultural middle class.
As far as figures go, Africa’s mobile telecom market boasts 650 million (!) subscribers. That’s 40-fold growth in just over a decade, and like the phones in Africa’s pockets, the possibilities for mobile (and economic) growth are now completely untethered.