Will European tech companies miss out on Africa?

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Is Europe poised to miss out on the massive growth in mobile in Africa? In the last couple of years I’ve noticed a small but significant trend – European tech people taking more of an interest in Africa. The trouble is we are talking about tiny numbers. I know perhaps only three entrepreneurs who’ve done this. But clearly they are on to something and mobile is going to be a big component of this.

According to new figures from Stat Counter the highest share of mobile web usage is coming from emerging countries, and among them those in Africa are amongst the highest mobile web users.

Of course, the danger with Africa is that we start to think about it the way some people think Europe is one country. Africa is a patchwork of countries, some very different than others. However, the broad trends across the continent cannot be mistaken.

Across the average, mobile web usage is lower in Europe and North America than in much of Asia and Africa. Of course, that makes sense, since so much of the developed world gets it’s Internet “fix” from wired broadband. And Android, iPhone, and smartphones are still not the majority of the mobile market, in reality.

Worldwide, mobile makes up 3.81% of web usage according to StatCounter. But based on visitor statistics from more than three million websites in the month of October, 2010 StatCounter, found:

Many African countries have more than 20% of web usage coming from mobiles:

• Nigeria has just over 25%
• Sudan has just over 22%
• Chad has close to 29% mobile web usage
• Several other African countries are on just under 20% mobile web usage
• Nokia phones dominate in these countries and Nokia’s Symbian OS completely dominates.
• Market share of Symbian varies from 60-90%, followed by Sony Ericsson and Samsung.
• Android, iOS or RIM have tiny market share in Africa.

So, the question is, with the continent almost on our doorstep, – are you “thinking Africa”?

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