As the continent of Africa grows economically, its citizens work hard in many sectors to help the continent shed the label of “developing” in order to be considered “developed.” All over Africa, independent nations are taking the next step to global communication that could possibly change the way that the world interacts with them.
“It is the fastest-growing mobile market in the world and the biggest after China,” the BBC reported in 2011, “…there will be more than 735 million subscribers by the end of 2012.” With those statistics, it is no surprise that some countries in Africa have become connected to 4G internet before many countries in Europe.
The country that most would expect to have 4G in place, South Africa, uses 3G and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. So far Liberia, Tanzania, Mauritius, Nigeria, Namibia and even the ex-communist state Angola are all 4G Internet capable. The use of 4G within Africa gives those countries the ability to communicate and in effect compete in real time with markets across the globe. Companies such as 4G Africa work towards providing 4G Internet across sub-Saharan Africa in order to “reduce the digital divide,” according to their website. Within their nations, the introduction of mobile high-speed Internet has changed the way that Africans share information, conduct business and even shop.
In Nigeria, Slim Trader, founded by Femi Akinde, allows consumers to purchase products over the phone. Founded in Namibia, Umuntu media provides local news, job listings, and more, and after 18 months of operation has portals in nine countries. The founder Johan Nel recently released a new mobile-focused website called Mimiboard. Nel explained to BBC that if “a fisherman in Mombasa can post about his catch of the day to Mimiboard, then other users in the area can go buy fish.”
The websites mentioned might seem unimpressive to Americans, but the speed of their success isn’t — plus their potential for growth is epic. As Africa increases the speed at which it consumes information and communicate, it may eventually become more viable as en economic competitor to the world.