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Africa’s smartphone growth is giving local businesses plenty of new opportunities

Mobile operators in Africa are leveraging the rapidly growing smartphone market by opening up their APIs to third-party developers, according to a new report by GSMA.

This move provides local businesses in the market with new and lucrative opportunities to reach consumers via mobile channels like messaging apps, mobile billing, and location-based services. In return, mobile operators are generating more revenue as these consumers increase the amount of time they spend on their devices.

Giving third-party developers access to their APIs will enable local businesses to tap into an increasingly mobile consumer base. For example, a startup could offer various deals or draw information based on a user’s location, send that user an SMS message, and then charge them for that message through their mobile use time.

Moreover, the number of consumers in Africa accessing the internet through mobile devices has tripled over the past five years. There are now 300 million mobile web users, equivalent to about 25% Africa’s population. This region will only see greater growth as mobile phone availability increases. A greater supply of users means a greater need for connectivity and services throughout all of Africa, which creates the need for more open APIs that offer expanded services.

Looking ahead, mobile opportunities in Africa will grow in line with the expansion of the mobile ecosystem. Already, mobile-related services generated 6.7% of Africa’s GDP in 2015. Therefore, an expansion of mobile services through more open APIs will create more mobile opportunities for users and increase overall mobile-related revenue. Africa’s smartphone market is expected to triple, from 226 million smartphone users in 2015 to more than 720 million users in 2020.

Meanwhile, the global smartphone market is expected to slow considerably over the next few years. Despite a record-setting holiday quarter, 2015 was likely the last year of double-digit growth for smartphone shipments.

Mature markets were at the heart of this year’s deceleration. Adoption has reached new highs in key markets in the United States, Europe, and China. The pool of first-time buyers in these countries is shrinking rapidly, and sales are now primarily coming from phone upgrades.

Meanwhile, emerging markets will continue to see robust shipment growth. India and Indonesia, in particular, will help fuel a large share of the shipments growth within the global smartphone market over the next few years.

Will McKitterick, senior research analyst at BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, has compiled a detailed report on smartphones by country that forecasts the market through 2021 to reflect slower, stabilizing growth in the long term.

Here are some key points from the report:

The global smartphone market is still growing at a steady pace due to more widespread adoption in emerging markets. We estimate the global market will hit about 2.1 billion units shipped in 2021.
Shipments growth over the past few years has been driven by the falling price of smartphones, which has made handsets more accessible in emerging markets. The average selling price of a smartphone in India nearly halved between 2010 and 2015.
With relatively low smartphone penetration, we forecast Indian smartphone shipments to grow rapidly over the next five years. Nevertheless, India has a long way to go before it surpasses China as the world’s leading market for smart handsets. India is estimated to account for roughly 10% of the global smartphone market in 2016, considerably less than China’s 30% share.
The global platform wars are over, even as smartphone adoption continues to rise across various markets worldwide. Android and iOS are estimated to account for 97.3% of global platform market share in 2015, compared to 96.3% last year.
Apple closed the year with another strong quarter on the back of its iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus launches. Still, the vendor saw a slight decline in YoY growth of its share of the market in the face of stiff competition from Samsung and Chinese vendors such as Huawei.
In full, the report:

Forecasts global smartphone shipments through 2021.
Explores why India is the next high-growth smartphone market.
Breaks down the global smartphone platform wars.
Discusses smartphone vendor performance market share.
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