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AFRICA – The mobile app industry is starting to explode in Africa, according to reports from our colleagues at Forum Nokia and Ovi Store today. There’s two parts to this: the number of apps that people are downloading and buying; and the number of developers creating new apps. Read on after the break to find out what’s going on.

Since July 1 (three months ago), the number of Ovi Store downloads by African consumers has grown by 50 per cent, with the number of active users growing by 20 per cent.

In South Africa, which appears to be the most mature market in the region, purchases from Ovi Store have grown by a whopping 438 per cent since June. This massive increase followed the introduction of operator billing for apps, which clearly makes people far more likely to purchase compared to pulling out their credit cards or other alternatives. At Nokia World, Scott Jensen, who heads up product marketing for Ovi Store, said that the introduction of operator billing to an area results in 13 times as many sales on average compared to credit cards.

There’s a ‘virtuous circle’ element to this, of course. The more developers there are creating apps, the more people will go to the Ovi Store to download them. Then the more people download and buy apps, the more developers want to get into the space.

The increase in the number of people buying apps in Africa is both spurred by and helps grow the number of people making new apps. Developer registrations on Forum Nokia from Africans have grown by 60 per cent over the same three months. This year’s Calling All Innovators competition yielded two winners from Africa. eLiteracy is, as you might imagine from the name, a system for helping teach early literacy through mobile devices. It won the Life Improvement category in the competition and was developed by the South African appCRAFT. Medica – from IRWAA, LLC in Eqypt – is an advanced alarm-system devoted to helping people remember to take their prescriptions at the right time. Even better, Kenyan developers Virtual City Ltd were handed $1million in venture capital by Nokia CEO Stephen Elop as winners of the Growth Economy Venture Challenge competition.

Another developer highlight from the region is that North Africa is becoming a hotspot for the creation of Arabic language applications worldwide. Meanwhile, East Africa is becoming a centre for the rapidly growing area of mobile money, with players such as M-PESA, Zap, Yu-Cash, MTN Money and Orange Money collecting an estimated 12million subscribers in the area between them.



Forum Nokia is helping to support the developer community across the continent with Bootcamps and training sessions on Java, Web Runtime and Qt; and with networking and training events in Cairo, Johannesburg, Lagos, Nairobi and other locations.

So how long before Africa beats the current top continents for downloads and new apps? At this rate of growth, it might not be long. What are your thoughts on this?