Is This The Last Goodbye For Feature Phones?

Remember what a basic phone looks like? Good, because soon all you’ll be left with is a memory.

A new report from International Data Corp predicts that by 2019, only 27 percent of the phones sold in Africa and the Middle East will be feature phones. In the first quarter of this year, 47 percent of all the cellphones sold in Africa were smartphones, as sales of feature phones dropped by 20 percent annually, IDC reported. Nigeria contributed a lion’s share, procuring 14 percent of all smartphone shipments across Africa during the first quarter, followed by South Africa with 12 percent.

According to separate research from GfK, released earlier this year, low-end phones have grown to obtain 56 percent market share, acting as a driving force behind smartphone adoption. In addition to mobile penetration, which is expected to touch 79 percent in Africa by 2020, mobile broadband connections are expected to reach 160 million by 2016, throwing open a world of opportunities for a thriving mobile economy.

What do you get when you combine lack of a formal financial framework and affordable means of communication? A continent that’s a testing ground for innovation in mobile banking and payment services. It should come as no surprise then that, according to a report by the Boston Consulting Group, mobile payments in sub-Saharan Africa will generate $1.5 billion in fees for mobile-money providers by 2019.’s Financial Inclusion Tracker for July identifies Africa as one of the key growth markets for mobile money and other services like bill pay, P2P transactions and eCommerce. World Bank data ranks sub-Saharan Africa as a leader in mobile money accounts, with 34 percent of adults having a bank account in 2014, up from 24 percent in 2011.

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