Ghana’s community of smartphone users appears to be embracing Android’s operating system once again, as its market share has risen since the start of 2019 according to new data from StatCounter. Android’s market share in the west African nation had fallen to as low as 56.83% in February 2019, a figure not seen since July 2018. However, StatCounter’s latest data for April 2019 has found that it has grown in the last couple of months to a healthier 62.48% – almost two-thirds of Ghana’s entire smartphone market.
Interestingly, the market share for Apple’s iOS-powered iPhones has remained somewhat static over the last 12 months. In May 2018, StatCounter measured Apple’s market share in Ghana at 6.58%, while its market share had risen only slightly to 8.15% by April 2019. Microsoft will be the most concerned about the figures, iIts Windows-powered smartphones owned more than a quarter (27.78%) of the market share in Ghana back in June 2018, but this fell significantly to 17.03% in December 2018, before recovering somewhat to 20.14% in April 2019.
Ghana remains one of Africa’s most lucrative and attractive markets for smartphone manufacturers. According to Jumia’s Annual Mobile Report 2018, it is projected that Ghana’s mobile penetration is set to reach more than 130% by 2020, with more than 40 million active mobile users by the turn of the next decade. Ghana already has more than 34.57 million smartphone subscribers and more than ten million active internet users, resulting in more than a third of the country’s population having access to the internet, either via smartphone or desktop PCs.
Ore Odusanya, CO-CEO of Jumia Ghana, said last year that the “main catalysts for this rise in the number of people with access to mobile phones and internet usage have been attributed to the recent push for telecommunication companies to expand their network coverage, the availability of cheap smartphones from China, and a robust legal regime”. China’s significant investment in Africa’s telecommunications infrastructure is clearly starting to bear fruit and their cheaper smartphones are making it easier to penetrate the mainstream.
In 2014, the average price of a smartphone on Jumia was US$219. Compare that with 2017, when the average price fell to just US$65, and it’s easy to see why smartphone sales soared by more than 70% year-on-year between 2016 and 2017. The expectation is that there will be some 720 million smartphones in operation throughout the continent by 2020.
More Ghanaians are going to be prepared to pay for and accept funds using digital smartphones in the months and years to come too. A leading fintech service provider has recently unveiled “Visa on mobile” to the Ghanaian Android and iOS smartphone users. The provider, expressPay, has launched its VISA electronic payment service, which allows consumers to scan a merchant’s QR code to complete mobile transactions using their smartphones due to their interoperability with other leading banking apps and USSD short codes.
Curtis Vanderpuije, CEO of expressPay, is confident that VISA on mobile will “accelerate digital commerce and combat some of the challenges small and micro merchants in Ghana face using traditional point of sale systems, including the cost of installation and requirement for electricity and internet connectivity”.
One aspect of Android smartphone use that Ghanaians have already embraced is its flexibility for entertainment purposes. Although SimilarWeb’s index of the most popular Android apps in Ghana lists a number of social media apps in its top ten, there are entertainment streaming apps that rank highly for live sport and television shows. The Google Play Games app is also featured inside the top 50 apps, with more Ghanaians recognising the value of gaming on the go.
One area where Google Play does lack for users outside of the UK, Ireland and France is real money iGaming apps. They are available to download for people in those three regions, but it is far more complicated to download these apps for gamers in Ghana and elsewhere around the world. This will need to change if the iGaming industry wants to become part of mainstream mobile gaming culture.
Nevertheless, a social media ‘revolution’ is more likely to lead to smartphone growth in Ghana during the coming years than online gaming, with more than five million people already registered to social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The accessibility of friends and family is a phenomenon not just to Ghanaians, but the entirety of Africa.