Africa happens to be in a lucky position as far as ICT is concerned. There is little if any legacy infrastructure laid in African cities and the little that was there was long vandalized. This leaves an almost empty canvas for whichever road-map the powers that be decide to adopt in the quest for a more connected, productive and sustainably run ICT industry. The same case does not apply to Europe and the Americas what with the heavy investment in the 90’s in copper based cabling and this is still evident in their attempt at squeezing as much as possible from the DSL lines still existent.
That being said, a lot has been going on in the sector and most recently East Africa has gained focus due to the recent landing of the fiber optic cable at its coast and subsequent plummeting of the price of internet access. The success of Mobile based money transfer systems by leading telcos in the area have also precipitated renewed interest and even earned Michael Joseph, The immediate former CEO of Safaricom Ltd, a world bank fellowship.
This presents an opportunity for the hawk eyed investor in establishing a foothold in the new ’emerging market’ . Here we have a fresh population with no legacies of answering machines, pagers, landlines and post paid contracts. They pay with what they earned that morning. Ready cash for ready products and services. This is a market where Android is as new as smartphone and for some an android phone will be their first.
This also offers the opportunity to make distribution methods for various digital consumables (e.g music) to be creative. Most Africans (middle class) are not really into buying CD’s. They may want to support the local artists but $10 for an album is lavish spending. Offer to download it to their phones for a much cheaper rate however and you may just have struck a goldmine.
I could list many more but the general point is , in the mobile telephone space, Africa is an empty canvas enticing anyone bold enough to paint on her.